303 Still Missing after 2020 War, Says Armenia’s Human Rights Defender
On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances Armenia’s foreign ministry accused Azerbaijan of ignoring decision made by the European Court of Human Rights that call on Baku to adhere to international laws and the Geneva Convention.
“After the ceasefire signed on November 9, 2020, Azerbaijan still continues holding Armenian prisoners of war, including civilians, in captivity, and the fates of hundreds of missing in action and those who were forcefully disappeared as a result of the first and the 44-Day Karabakh wars are still unknown,” explained the foreign ministry.
“The absence of cooperation by the authorities of Azerbaijan makes it impossible to clearly estimate the number of missing persons and get reliable information about the fates and location of missing persons.
Azerbaijan continues ignoring the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, regarding the use of interim measures on providing information about the Armenian captives in Azerbaijan, as well as the urgent measures of the International Court of Justice applied on December 7, 2021, which oblige Azerbaijan to stop its racist and discriminative policy against Armenians,” added Yerevan.
“The issue of disappearances is a humanitarian priority which must be depoliticized and solved with a firm political will and cooperation,” the foreign ministry said, calling on the international community to assume responsibility to ensure an unconditional entry to the entire territory of Nagorno Karabakh which, it said, could mitigate the existing humanitarian crisis.
“On the International Day of Enforced Disappearances, we are expressing solidarity to the families of the victims and all those who suffer from these inhuman acts. We are fighting for the rights of the disappeared, we continue fighting for justice and against the impunity of this crime. We reaffirm our urgent call to put an end to the impunity of enforced disappearances,” the foreign ministry added.
Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Kristine Grigoryan on Tuesday highlighted the need for more active efforts to find and identify missing persons after the 2020 war, as she addressed a message marking International Day of the Victims of Enforces Disappearances.
The day was established by the United Nations General Assembly to shine a spotlight on this form of human rights violations, which unfortunately plagued Armenia and Artsakh as a result of the brutal and aggressive attack launched by Azerbaijan against Artsakh in 2020.
“The enforced disappearances of persons are a recurrent and ongoing violation of human rights. They are initiated by the permission or consent of state representatives and officials, and are followed by the denial or concealment of the whereabouts of the missing person,” explained Grigoryan in her statement.
“Enforced disappearances have a severe impact both on the victims, who are usually subjected to torture and live in a constant fear on their lives, and on their relatives and family members, who are unaware of their fate, and live with constant anticipation of their return,” added the statement.
“Regrettably, the ongoing conflicts in the modern world have created a ‘favorable’ environment for enforced disappearances, unfortunately we know this through our own example, and we continue to suffer the pain and constant battle of the victims of enforced disappearances and their relatives during and after the 44-day war,” she said.
“According to the data presented by the International Committee of the Red Cross in August 2022, 303 persons are still considered missing as a result of the 44-day war in 2020,” the statement informed.
“The continuous Azerbaijani policy of providing distorted or no information at all on the prisoners of war, civilian captives, and missing persons is a blatant act of using human rights issues for political purposes, violating al norms of international humanitarian law,” emphasized Grigoryan. “Unfortunately, international response mechanisms to cases of enforced disappearances have demonstrated their lack of effectiveness during these critical days. Therefore, this is a reason to actively work with all competent actors in this direction.”
“At the same time, it should be noted that in order to implement the rules provided by international law, states must fix these norms in their respective domestic legislation and take all the necessary measures to ensure their implementation. Therefore, in this regard, The Office of the Human Rights Defender of Armenia is ready to work with the Government of Armenia in the direction of improving the domestic legislation and institutional framework aimed at ensuring the rights of missing persons and their relatives,” said the rights defender.
“Taking all the necessary measures within the context of the mandate of the Human Rights Defender in finding and assisting the missing persons, I strongly condemn all cases of enforced disappearances, and I call on to unite all efforts and take all the necessary measures to find all missing persons and to effectively guarantee their rights and those of their families,” concluded Grigoryan.