Law 11:45 04/06/2021 Armenia

Any prosecution or trial of POWs gross violation of international law, Armenian ombudsman says

Any prosecution or trial of prisoners of war (POWs) is a gross violation of international law, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan said in a statement late on Thursday.

On June 2, a court hearing in the criminal case against Armenian prisoners Lyudvik Mkrtchyan and Alyosha Khosrovyan was held in Azerbaijan, which is a flagrant violation of international law, he said.

Moreover, the State Security Service and the Prosecutor General's Office of Azerbaijan issued a statement, saying the preliminary investigation of the criminal case against 14 Armenian prisoners of war who “committed acts of sabotage, terrorism and other crimes against Azerbaijani soldiers and civilians in the north-western region of Hadrut has been completed and sent to court."

“First, all servicemen and civilians of the Armenian side illegally being held in Azerbaijan are prisoners of war. They were captured during the armed conflict and now that conflict is not over,” Tatoyan said.

“Moreover, the Azerbaijani authorities are prosecuting the Armenian captives, in fact, on the basis of their so-called "confessions".

“It is obvious that they are being held in such conditions in Azerbaijan obviously illegally and the prosecution or trial of any of the POWs and their detention is a gross violation of international humanitarian law, including the Third Geneva Convention,” the ombudsman said.

He stated the policy of Armenophobia and hostility pursued by the Azerbaijani authorities generally confirms the illegitimacy of criminal proceedings, making it unnecessary to even talk about the law. Moreover, in these conditions, the lives of prisoners and a number of other vital rights are clearly endangered, Tatoyan said.

“The Human Rights Defender's Office of Armenia has reported that, as can be seen from the videos and photos published by Azerbaijani sources yesterday, prisoners Lyudvik Mkrtchyan and Alyosha Khosrovyan were subjected to openly degrading treatment in the courtroom, being kept in a glass cell and isolated.

“The monitoring revealed that these attitudes and publications are aimed at causing additional mental suffering to the families of POWs and creating tensions in the Armenian society.

“Studies by the Human Rights Defender's Office show that the publication of the scene was praised on Azerbaijani social media and a number of calls for execution and torture of Lyudvik Mkrtchyan and Alyosha Khosrovyan could be seen.

“Therefore, the trials of Armenian prisoners held illegally in Azerbaijan completely contradict the principles of international law, grossly violate the rights of prisoners and their families and politicize humanitarian issues. And all this comes amid Azerbaijan’s failure to disclose the real number of POWs.

"Therefore, all Armenian POWs must be immediately released and repatriated without any preconditions,” reads the statement.

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