Azerbaijani ombudsperson responds to allegations reflected in report of Human Rights Watch for 2022

Azerbaijan`s Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) Sabina Aliyeva has responded to the allegations reflected in the report of Human Rights Watch for 2022.

“First and foremost, it should be noted that the reports and statements prepared by international non-governmental organizations should be impartial, fair and free from double standards. But unfortunately, as always Human Rights Watch (HRW) continues its biased approach towards Azerbaijan by sharing baseless and biased information on social media and reflecting such baseless information in its annual reports.

In its report for 2022, HRW indicates the resolved conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan as an unresolved one which shows the real approach of the HRW to this issue. In its report, the HRW also shows disrespect to the internationally recognized territorial integrity of Azerbaijan by ignoring the generally recognized principles of international law. Whereas, if the HRW could take an effort and make an objective investigation then it will see the rapid restoration and construction activities after the liberation of the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan from the occupation of Armenia.

We would like to especially emphasize that since the Trilateral Statement of the leaders of Azerbaijan, Russian Federation and Armenia of 10 November 2020, there has not been any case by Azerbaijani side which may threaten the lives of any person of Armenian nationality who live in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

20 percent of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan had been under the occupation of Armenia for almost 30 years and nearly one million people became IDPs due to this occupation. About 4000 people of Azerbaijani nationalities went missing since the first Karabakh war and Armenia ignores to provide any information about their fate to their families. Why HRW did not make any initiative to bring this gross violation of human rights to the attention of the world community for the restoration of this violation?

After the liberation of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan it was found that hundreds of thousands of land mines were planted in those areas by Armenia which threaten the lives of civilians. In the report the HRW just refers to the statement of the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General dated October 2022 saying that “since the 2020 ceasefire, through mid-October 2022, 34 civilians were killed and another 80 were wounded due to landmines in “Nagorno Karabakh” and the surrounding areas.” It should be noted that unfortunately the number of civilians who lost their lives or were wounded due to the land mine explosions increased since the last October. Since the end of the Second Karabakh War 274 people were hit by the land mines and 46 people were killed of which 36 were civilians. It is strange that the HRW never mentions the leadership of Armenia who was directly involved in the planting of these land mines during the occupation of these territories and refuses to provide an accurate map of unmarked land mines.

Many reports on violations of the norms and principles of international law as well as international humanitarian law during the war and post-war periods were prepared and sent to the relevant international human rights organizations. In her ad-hoc report on the land mine problem the Ombudsperson provided detailed information about the threat of land mines and stressed the need for rapid resolution of this problem which undermines the peace-building process in the region. This report had also been sent to all relevant international human rights institutions and international non-governmental organizations, including HRW.

In light of the above mentioned the HRW’s approach to the issue of land mines creates such an impression as if continuous civil casualties due to these land mines are not a serious issue for this organization.

Regarding videos showing the alleged execution of Armenian military servants, it should be noted that Azerbaijani authorities started the necessary investigations into these materials. It should be noted that there are some suspicions about the trustfulness of these videos. However, there are many videos, which demonstrate the torture and ill-treatment committed against Azerbaijani military servants by Armenian military servants, and some of them were spread on social media. But we never witnessed any case of investigation on the facts demonstrated in these videos by Armenian authorities and any reaction of HRW in this regard.

We would expect an impartial approach from the HRW in respect of investigation the cases of POWs. Unfortunately, we did not witness any serious approach to the issue of Azerbaijani POWs who were undergone torture and ill-treatment by the military forces of Armenia.

Regarding the POWs, it should be noted that according to the statement of the state authorities all Armenian POWs have already been returned to their homes just after the end of the second Karabakh War.

We have to inform you that the Azerbaijani Ombudsperson, within her NPM mandate, with also her NPM Group conduct regular visits, without any discrimination, to the places which persons cannot leave on their own will, including those where detainees of Armenian nationality are held. During such visits it was observed that they were provided with medical treatment, a translator and contact via video call with their relatives.

In this regard we would advise the HRW to take a look at and use the ad-hoc reports of the Ombudsperson of Azerbaijan concerning her visits to monitor human rights situation of the detainees of Armenian nationality while preparing its reports.

The Ombudsperson of Azerbaijan many times issued statements condemning the Armenian-backed provocations against Azerbaijan in the post-war period which threaten the peace in the region. Unfortunately, the HRW never takes any step to investigate the human rights violations reflected in these statements and on contrary continues to issue biased reports.

We call on the HRW to be fair, impartial and move away from double standards and to avoid any biased approach or statement which may put the efforts for sustainable peace in danger and delay the restoration of normal life in the region,” Sabina Aliyeva said.


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