According to information obtained from open public sources within the framework of interstate legal proceedings initiated by the Government of the Republic of Armenia in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Azerbaijani authorities are currently conducting fake criminal prosecutions against Armenian nationals detained as a result of the war unleashed on September 27, 2020, in clear violation of international humanitarian law, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, Armenia’s Representative before the ECHR, said in a statement.
“The Government of the Republic of Armenia has repeatedly stated and reaffirms its position that persons currently held illegally in Azerbaijan are prisoners of war, abducted civilians, and are guaranteed protection under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Any criminal case against the captured Armenian persons has no legal basis and clearly contradicts the international legal norms,” the Representative said.
Moreover, he added, the whole process of criminal prosecution on the basis of fictitious charges against Armenian civilians and POWs is accompanied by gross violations of the guarantees of the basic elements of a fair trial.
“In particular, persons prosecuted under both international human rights law and international humanitarian law should enjoy the minimum guarantees of a fair trial, such as the presumption of innocence. They also have the right to get informed promptly and thoroughly of the nature of the charge in a language understandable to them, have time and place to prepare his defense, to defend himself in person or through lawyers chosen by him, to use the free service of an interpreter, etc. The mentioned legally binding guarantees are obviously violated by the Azerbaijani authorities, which has been repeatedly confirmed by a number of international organizations, including the ECHR,” Kirakosyan said.
“Taking into account the above, the Office of the Representative of the Republic of Armenia in the ECHR has repeatedly appealed to the ECHR with various demands to terminate the criminal prosecutions against the mentioned persons, release them or otherwise guarantee their rights. However, given that the only urgent remedy under the ECtHR’s legal mechanisms is the possibility of applying an interim measure under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, which is unfortunately very limited and applies mainly in the event of an irreversible risk of a breach of the right to life or non-torture, the ECHR refrains from interfering in the criminal prosecution of these individuals,” he added.
Taking into account the above, the Office of the Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the ECHR is currently pursuing professional discussions with the competent state bodies, other interested parties, on the possibility of resorting to effective tools in the context of other international legal mechanisms to obtain information on illegal prosecutions of Armenian captive Armenians, to intervene or prevent them.
At the same time, considering that the ongoing international legal processes are of a complex, multi-layered nature, as well as the fact that the Azerbaijani authorities will try to use any opportunity to “legitimize” the fake criminal prosecutions initiated by them, the Office of the Armenian Representative to the ECHR calls on lawyers, advocates, the Chamber of Advocates or any other persons and/or human rights organizations to discuss the matter with the Office before taking any action.
At the same time, taking into account the hypersensitivity and importance of the issue, the Office urges to refrain as much as possible from speculating on the topic, from public discussions on the issue.