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.
Episode 42 recorded on January 16, 2021
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.
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.
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.
After the January 11 agreement announced in Moscow, the Pashinyan administration seems to be switching its focus to internal affairs and specifically legal 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.
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.
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**. **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.
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.
Asbed is founder of Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.