Armenia Ombudsman raises POW swap in letter to OSCE Minsk Group

January 18, 2021 – 17:54 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net – Armenian Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan has raised the return of Armenian captives from Azerbaijan and the protection of their rights in a letter to the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.

Tatoyan has written that the exchange of prisoners of war – both servicemen and civilians – must be arranged immediately after the completion of military hostilities.

“This is a universal requirement for international action to be automatically applied. Doing the opposite violates international human rights requirements and international humanitarian law, including the 1949 UN Convention on Human Rights,” Tatoyan maintained in his letter.

“Given the humanitarian mandate of the OSCE Mink Group co-chairs and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and their role in the protection of human rights, as well as the fact that our compatriots have been taken captive in Artsakh (Nagorno-), the letter drew the attention of the co-chairs to said issues and many others.”

The first batch of 44 Armenian POWs returned from Azerbaijan in mid-December, although Armenian officials said many more people were being held in Baku. Dozens of others, both servicemen and civilians, have been captured after the completion of military hostilities. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said in one of his speeches that the newly detained persons are not prisoners of war but “terrorists”. Human rights lawyer Siranush Sahakyan has said, meanwhile, that at least 120 Armenian prisoners of war are being held in Azerbaijan. Sahakyan represents the rights of some of the Karabakh POWs before the European Court of Human Rights. The lawyer said there is enough evidence proving the capture of said persons, which the Armenian side will submit to international agencies and courts.

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