February 04
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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has notified the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe about the Armenian prisoners issue.

On March 9, 2021, the European Court of Human Rights ordered to notify the Committee of Ministers, in accordance with Rule 39 § 2 of the Rules of Court, of the following provisional measures referred to in Rule 39 in relation to the recent armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan:

- the decision adopted on September 29, 2020, updated on November 4, 2020, containing an indication of general measures aimed at both states; and

- 78 decisions taken by the president of the relevant section between 13 October 2020 and 5 March 2021 regarding requests for interim measures against 249 Armenians allegedly withheld by Azerbaijan. These requests were submitted by the Armenian government in the framework of the interstate statement Armenia against Azerbaijan (No. 42521/20) and by the relatives of the alleged prisoners in 62 individual statements.

The court informed the Committee of Ministers that 58 of the Armenians mentioned were repatriated between December 2020 and February 2021 and that seven of them were presumed dead, according to the Armenian government - however, individual applicants in six cases claim that they did not receive any evidence death of their relatives. Of the 249 Armenians, 72 are still in Azerbaijan, and their capture and detention were recognized by the government of Azerbaijan. With regard to the remaining 112 people, the Azerbaijani government claims that they were unable to identify them among the captives.

Rule 39 was applied to 229 out of 249 Armenians. For the other 20 individuals, the Rule 39 examination was suspended or no decision was taken as the individuals concerned were repatriated. The Government of Azerbaijan was asked to provide specific information about the persons concerned, including the conditions of their detention, any medical examinations they have undergone, and details of the measures that have been taken or are planned to be taken to repatriate them.

On February 19, 2020, the chairman canceled interim measures against 41 Armenians, including 40 repatriated persons, as well as one person whose remains were found during a search. Thus, the Rule 39 measures remain in effect against the 188 Armenians allegedly captured by Azerbaijan.

The Court decided to notify the Committee of Ministers of the measures it had taken, taking into account the failure of the Government of Azerbaijan to comply with the deadline set by the Court for the submission of information about the persons concerned, and the rather general and limited information provided.

The Court also received Rule 39 requests from the Government of Azerbaijan concerning 16 Azerbaijanis allegedly held by Armenia.

Twelve people from this group were recognized as prisoners by the Armenian government and repatriated in December 2020. The other four people were not recognized as prisoners by Armenia. Given the nature of the information received from the Government of Armenia, the Court decided not to apply Rule 39 in any of these cases and instead suspended the examination under Rule 39.

The Court retains jurisdiction over future requests under Rule 39. These measures will remain in effect until otherwise decided.

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