At the moment we have about 156 POWs who have been repatriated thanks to legal and political efforts, but along with that there are many people who are still held in Azerbaijan. This was stated during the discussion on "The Second Anniversary of the War: What Instruments of International Law Are Implemented, What Can Be Done?" on Tuesday, a representative of the interests of Armenian POWs at the ECHR, Siranush Sahakyan.
"Of course, an extremely important problem is that we have about 80 POWs, officially unaccepted by the Azerbaijani authorities, who have been forcibly disappeared during this time. Officially, the number of POWs held in Azerbaijan before the September 13 hostilities was 33, but in the post-war period there are already about 20 new cases of captivity. The vast majority has already been confirmed at the official level, but we are expecting answers through the ECHR in the near future, and then we will be able to more clearly confirm the information on the persons taken POWs during the latest incidents," Sahakyan said.
She said they are acting on individual complaints, representing POWs and their families. "In addition, these efforts are complemented by other lawyers. At the same time, there is an interstate process going on in the ECHR itself, which also includes the issue of POWs, the treatment of POWs, as well as repatriation. The issue of POWs is also indirectly discussed at the International Court of Justice, in the context of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. From this point of view, I think the legal efforts have been quite intensive, in a certain sense also unprecedented, because previously Armenia refrained from presenting interstate cases against any state on human rights issues. This is the first time a state is so active in international legal instances," said a representative of the interests of Armenian prisoners at the ECHR.
As Sahakyan noted, perhaps the only gap that can be filled in the legal process is the initiation of a process under the Convention against Hostage-taking before the UN Court, as the processes showed that the captives are no longer just captives, they are being held as hostages and used as a means to increase pressure on the RA authorities. "Their repatriation is directly related to resolving issues of a political nature. There are enough facts to argue that they are hostages.
Legal processes must be combined with political and diplomatic work. Official, diplomatic efforts as well as the activities of human rights structures should be of great importance here," Sahakyan concluded.