In the case of two dozen people who went missing as a result of the 44-day war, human rights activists have appealed to the European Court. About 20 people are on the list of 80 about whom, according to the captives' representatives, there is indisputable evidence of captivity, however, Azerbaijan does not accept them.
Siranush Sahakyan (Representative of Captives in the ECHR) - In about two dozen cases, we have re-formulated the subject of the complaint, apart from the fact of captivity, we are currently raising the issue of enforced disappearance.
The complaints submitted to the European Court highlight the violations of the right to life, freedom from torture and personal freedom of these persons. According to Sahakyan, the issue of Azerbaijan's responsibility and restoration of the rights of these people should be resolved in international courts.
Siranush Sahakyan - If their captivity is proved in the court process, and Azerbaijan does not assume the obligation to return them in full, in this case the court formally registers a violation of the right to life. Its considers that being in the unknown at this time already indicates arbitrary restrictions on rights. It is possible to make predictions about the violation of their right to life, and in this respect, they will also provide compensation to the families.
Besides, applications were submitted to the European Court on the cases of missing persons, the capture of which the Armenian side has no evidence. According to the Investigative Committee, 217 people are still missing. As their last known location is under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan, Sahakyan believes that the burden of providing clarifications on the future of these people lies with the Azerbaijani authorities.
Siranush Sahakyan - They must either clarify or accept the possible captivity, or if they died on the battlefield, then return the bodies, personal belongings, and explain where they were kept and for what purpose.
The physical immunity of 38 confirmed prisoners in Azerbaijan is under protection. The ECHR made urgent measures on them. According to Sahakyan, urgent measures have been removed in the case of the returnees, but it does not mean that they are abandoning the court process. Azerbaijan has often circumvented ECHR decisions and violated the rights of Armenians.
Siranush Sahakyan - We are concerned about the protection of the rights of victims of border incidents, especially when the rights of Armenians are being violated in the presence of Russian peacekeepers. We document all these cases and file complaints.
To date, 150 prisoners have been returned. Azerbaijan recently launched a lawsuit against Ishkhan Sargsyan and Vladimir Rafaelyan, servicemen captured by Azerbaijani forces in the border area of Gegharkunik province in 2021, for allegedly crossing the border into Azerbaijan and committing terrorism. At the February 28 court hearing, the Azerbaijani prosecutor demanded that Sargsyan be sentenced to 20 years in prison and Rafaelyan to 19 years in prison. The next court hearing is on March 7.