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Urgent action needed to address Azerbaijanʼs violation of Armenian prisoner of war rights under the Geneva Convention

By Armenianweekly

March 26, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

The Committee for the Protection of the Fundamental Rights of the Artsakh People is gravely alarmed by recent reports detailing Azerbaijanʼs flagrant violations of the rights of Armenian prisoners of war (POWs), particularly in regard to the fundamental principle of the right to be free from public curiosity as outlined in the Third Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. These actions are not only morally reprehensible but also in direct contravention of international humanitarian law.

Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits POWs from being subjected to public curiosity. Azerbaijanʼs public airing of videos depicting POWs constitutes a gross violation of their right to privacy and dignity under this convention. Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention similarly prohibits such public spectacles against noncombatants.

Furthermore, these actions violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the right to privacy and protection from arbitrary interference with oneʼs privacy, family, home or correspondence.

The airing of staged interviews with Armenian POWs and hostages by Azerbaijan constitutes a direct violation of their rights and further exacerbates their already precarious situation. Such manipulative tactics by Azerbaijan serve to undermine the integrity of international humanitarian law and must be unequivocally condemned by the international community.

In light of these egregious violations, we urgently call upon state actors and human rights organizations to take direct action to prevent Azerbaijan from further airing videos or interviews of POWs and hostages. This includes leveraging diplomatic channels, imposing sanctions if necessary and issuing public condemnations to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions.

We emphatically stress that allowing any retransmission of such videos by other states parties is not only itself a grave violation of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions but also a reprehensible disregard for the basic principles of humanitarian law. Therefore, it is imperative that all states parties take immediate and decisive action to prevent any and all retransmission of Azerbaijani broadcasts of such videos on any and all servers, media and/or platforms under their jurisdictions.

Furthermore, we demand immediate and unfettered access for international humanitarian organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, to all detention facilities where Armenian POWs and hostages are held. This access is crucial to ensuring the well-being and proper treatment of these individuals in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and other applicable international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

It is imperative that Azerbaijan comply with its obligations under international law and ceases all actions that violate the rights of Armenian POWs and hostages. Failure to do so not only undermines the principles of humanity and dignity but also threatens regional stability and peace.

We stand ready to work alongside the international community to address these violations and ensure the protection of the rights of all individuals affected by this conflict. We call upon all state actors and international organizations to continue to demand the immediate and unconditional release of all Armenians unlawfully held in Azerbaijani captivity.

It is our collective responsibility to uphold the principles of the Geneva Conventions and applicable human rights instruments and safeguard the dignity and well-being of all POWs and hostages illegally held in Azerbaijani captivity.


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