Hello and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, In this Conversations on Groong episode, we talk about various human rights and legal issues in the context of several processes afoot in Armenia and Artsakh, following the second war in Artsakh.
This episode was recorded on Saturday, January 16, 2021.
Today, we’ll be discussing various legal and human-rights topics within the context of recent developments in Armenia.
To talk about these issues, we are joined by:
Ruben Melikyan, who was formerly Artsakh’s Human Rights Ombudsman and prior to that rector of the Justice Academy of Armenia. In 2019, Melikyan co-founded and currently leads the “Path of Law” NGO.
As former human rights ombudsman in Karabakh what has been your experience on the topic of prisoners of war? Point 8 of the Nov 9 statement governs the exchange of prisoners and we’ve previously heard that they’re supposed to be exchanged based on the principle of all for all, meaning Armenia hands over all of prisoners in its custody and Azerbaijan vice-versa. The issue of POW exchange is also codified in international conventions, such as the Geneva Convention. Why in your opinion are we still talking about this issue today?
Do we know how many Armenians are in Azerbaijani custody? We’ve seen reports from Azerbaijan that they intend to treat these remaining prisoners not as POWs but as terrorists, or saboteurs, or file other criminal charges against them, which implies a different set of rules in handling them. What legal recourse does Armenia have in case Azerbaijan continues to pursue this route?
In 2018, Nikol Pashinyan promised to release all political prisoners in Armenia. Since then, his administration has stated that Armenia no longer has political prisoners. What is your assessment about the state of political prisoners and politically motivated prosecution in Armenia?
After the January 11 agreement announced in Moscow, the Pashinyan administration seems to be switching its focus to internal affairs and specifically legal reforms. Could you tell us what the government plans to do and what is your opinion on the process? Is now the right time to conduct such reforms?
On January 13, the parliamentary majority, My Step faction announced that they will unanimously endorse Gagik Jahangiryan as a member of the Supreme Judicial Council. What is your opinion on this appointment and where do you think the government is going with this?
Earlier this year, the Armenian government (after a lengthy process) was able to force the retirement of three constitutional court judges as well as replacing the head of the constitutional court Hrayr Tovmasyan. At least some of the judges have applied to the ECHR claiming their rights were violated. What is your opinion about this entire process? What would happen if they won the ECHR case?
What is your opinion on the realignment of the Armenia-Azerbaijan line of contact based on oral agreements between Pashinyan and Aliyev? Can such a verbal agreement have any legal force? Pashinyan says that this is not demarcation or delineation, however, Tigran Avinyan has used the word “demarcation” in the past, and our own experts have been unequivocal about it: that there is a process of border demarcation and delineation in progress, the priority of which today is unclear or at least unstated.
That concludes this Conversations On Groong episode. We hope it was helpful in your understanding of some of the issues involved. We look forward to your feedback, including your suggestions for Conversation topics in the future. Contact us on our website, at groong.org, or on our Facebook Page “ANN - Groong”, or in our Facebook Group “Groong - Armenian News Network”.
Special thanks to Laura Osborn for providing the music for our podcast. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channels, Like our pages and follow us on social media. Thank you for listening and we’ll talk to you soon.
Nagorno Karabakh, Artsakh, Ombudsman, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Baku, Human Rights, Ruben Melikyan, ECHR, Europe, European Commission, War, POW, MIA, Nikol Pashinyan, 44-day war, Tigran Avinyan, Gagik Jahangiryan