“The fate of hundreds of missing persons remains unexplained” – Armenian Foreign Ministry
Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances
There are 303 Armenian citizens still considered missing after the 44-day war in Karabakh. These figures were published in a statement of the Ombudsman of Armenia on “International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances”. The Ombudsman also makes reference to August data from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The statement of the Armenian Foreign Ministry also indicates that the fate of hundreds of missing and forcibly disappeared during the Karabakh wars (in the early 90s and in the fall of 2020) remains unclear.
“The lack of cooperation from the Azerbaijani authorities makes it impossible to conduct an accurate assessment of the number of missing persons and obtain reliable information about the fate or whereabouts of the missing, and whether they are alive,” the Foreign Ministry said in its statement.
A fourth meeting of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan is scheduled for August 31 in Brussels. The agenda of the talks has not been disclosed. It is not known whether Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev will discuss the issue of returning Armenian prisoners of war held in Baku.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on May 25 that Azerbaijan has confirmed the presence of 39 prisoners. According to Armenian human rights activists, at least 80 more people are being held in Baku. After the end of the second Karabakh war, 150 prisoners returned to Armenia from Azerbaijan.
“Azerbaijan continues to ignore the decisions of the ECtHR”
The Armenian Foreign Ministry says that after the ceasefire was established in November 2020, Azerbaijan has continued to hold Armenian prisoners of war, including civilians, and further information is impossible due to a “lack of cooperation on the part of the Azerbaijani authorities.”
“Azerbaijan continues to ignore the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the application of interim measures to provide information about Armenian hostages in Azerbaijan, as well as urgent measures presented by the International Court of Justice on December 7, 2021, obliging Azerbaijan to stop its racist and discriminatory policy against Armenians,” the recent statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reads.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers the issue of disappearances a humanitarian priority that needs to be depoliticized:
“In the absence of such an approach, justice and social recovery, and therefore long-term peace will remain abstract.
We call on the international community to take responsibility for ensuring unconditional access to the entire territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which can alleviate the existing humanitarian crisis.”
International Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearances was established by the UN General Assembly in 2010.
“Enforced disappearances of people have become a global problem, not limited to any particular region of the world.
“Of particular concern are:
- continued harassment of human rights defenders, relatives of victims, witnesses and lawyers dealing with cases of enforced disappearance;
- the use by states of anti-terrorist activities as an excuse for violating their obligations;
- still widespread practice of impunity for enforced disappearances,” UN experts say.
“Response mechanisms are ineffective”
Public Advocate of Armenia Kristine Grigoryan, who specifically authored the statement, stressed in it that ongoing conflicts in the modern world have created a “favorable environment” for the crime of enforced disappearance.
“The continued practice of the Azerbaijani authorities of not providing information about prisoners and missing persons or distorting such information is nothing more than the use of human rights issues for political purposes prohibited by international humanitarian law,” the Ombudsman believes.
Kristine Grigoryan claims that current response mechanisms are not effective enough. She believes that in order to enforce the norms stipulated by international law, states must enshrine them in their domestic legislation.
Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances