May 23
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There is no source of clear, unbiased information about the actual conditions of detention and treatment of the Armenian prisoners of war and hostages being held illegally in Azerbaijan. Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Gegham Stepanyan stated this, speaking with reporters in Armenia Tuesday.

"What we receive from the Red Cross cannot be considered sufficient. There are no international mechanisms by which the relatives will have complete information about the conditions in which the [aforesaid Armenian] captured persons [in Azerbaijan] live, are kept," said Stepanyan.

According to him, the fact that as a punishment for declaring a hunger strike, the Azerbaijani side even stopped former State Minister of Artsakh Ruben Vardanyan's opportunity to talk with his relatives speaks about the inadequacy of the Red Cross channel.

"For about 10-14 days, he could not keep in touch with his relatives at all. This means that these persons continue to be under direct violation of their rights. The only way to restore their rights is to release them immediately.

As for the steps [being taken] by the [Armenian] state, unfortunately, I don't see that Armenia's foreign policy takes any clear, persistent work towards the return of [the Armenian] captives or hostages [in Azerbaijan]. Yes, there are legal processes, this issue is being pushed forward by Armenia in legal frameworks, but this topic does not seem to be in the negotiation arena. This is also what enables Azerbaijan to act with impunity," said the ombudsman of Artsakh.

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