Former Artsakh Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan (Ep #42) - 01/18/2021 [EP42]

Posted on Monday, Jan 18, 2021 | Series: cog

Former Artsakh Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan - 01/18/2021

We’ll be discussing various legal and human-rights topics within the context of recent developments in Armenia.


  • 𝐑𝐮𝐛𝐞𝐧 𝐌𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐲𝐚𝐧 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.


  • Why are there Armenian POWs still in Azerbaijan so long after the Nov. 9 ceasefire agreement?
  • On Constitutional Court judges being forced to resign
  • On Parliament’s endorsement of Gagik Jahangiryan’s appointment to the Supreme Judicial Council, and legal reforms
  • On the realignment of the Armenia-Azerbaijan line of contact, border demarcation and delineation, and verbal agreements

Episode 42 recorded on January 16, 2021

Show Notes


Questions: As a 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.


  • Your thoughts?


That concludes this Conversations On Groong episode**. **As always we invite your feedback, Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.


Ruben Melikyan

Ruben Melikyan

Ruben Melikyan was formerly Artsakh’s Human Rights Ombudsman, and prior to that he was rector of the Justice Academy of Armenia. In 2019, Melikyan co-founded and currently leads the “Path of Law” NGO. Իրավական ուղի in Armenian.


Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Hovik Manucharyan on the ANN/Groong podcast are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of his employer or any other organization.

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.

comments powered by Disqus