The facts of these crimes are reviewed not in one, but in several international courts, because they cover violations of not one, but several international conventions, and there is a special procedure for filing complaints on each convention. Each court has the authority to assess violations only within the scope of one specific convention.
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
In January 2021, Azerbaijan lodged an interstate application against Armenia to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The application contains facts proving the continuous violation by Armenia of the rights of citizens of Azerbaijan as set by the 1950 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Most of these violations committed by the Armenian side from the beginning of the First Karabakh War to the Second Karabakh War involve the deliberate targeting of civilians, which constitutes a crime under international law.
Armenia, in turn, applied to the ECHR with a number of groundless allegations against Azerbaijan, and these allegations refer only to the period of the Patriotic War.
UN INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
In September 2021, Azerbaijan instituted proceedings against Armenia before the UN International Court of Justice in the Hague concerning the interpretation and application of the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, presenting evidence of Armenia’s continuing policy of ethnic cleansing targeting the Azerbaijani people. Notably, Armenia brought groundless accusations against Azerbaijan in this court as well.
According to the procedure, at the initial stage of the process, either party can file a request for the indication of provisional measures on certain matters of urgency, and both Azerbaijan and Armenia petitioned the court for such in September. The hearings held on October 14-19 were not on the merits of the complaints, but only to review these requests.
At this stage, Azerbaijan presented to the court the facts concerning the still continuing violations by the Armenian side on three matters of urgency and asked for the urgent intervention of the court. Baku accused Armenia of gross violation of this convention by failing to provide complete, detailed and accurate information on the landmines planted in Azerbaijan’s territory, including maps of minefields (or deliberately providing incomplete information), and thereby deliberately obstructing the return of internally displaced persons to these territories, which is essentially a continuation of ethnic cleansing.
In addition, in view of the non-application of punishment to persons guilty of violating international humanitarian law by the Armenian army during the Patriotic War, including those guilty of targeting civilians, torturing prisoners of war and other crimes, Baku also asks the court to intervene in the process in order to prevent possible destruction of evidence of war crimes.
The request also points out that the revanchist paramilitary groups operating in Armenia target Azerbaijanis on ethnic grounds by inciting hatred and violence against Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis. Similar attempts are being made today on social media and in mass media. Not only is Armenia as a state failing to prevent these actions, but it both directly and indirectly supports them in violation of the provisions of the 1965 Convention.
It should be noted that Armenia’s requests concerning Azerbaijan at this stage are mainly related to the unconditional release of persons of Armenian origin held in Azerbaijan, claiming that these persons are allegedly imprisoned because of their Armenian origin. On this issue, the Azerbaijani side presented evidence to the court that these persons had committed war crimes and other crimes in the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. It was pointed out that Azerbaijan has the right to bring these persons to justice on the basis of national criminal and criminal procedure legislation and did this not because they are ethnic Armenians, but for concrete crimes committed by them, evidence of which had been presented. In its other requests, Armenia demands to ensure the rights of these persons, to stop hateful rhetoric against the Armenian people (in this context, to immediately close the Military Trophy Park), to prevent the destruction of some religious and cultural sites in the territory of Azerbaijan, which the Armenian side considers to be Armenian heritage. On each of these issues, the Azerbaijani side and the professional lawyers representing Azerbaijan give meaningful answers and present relevant evidence.
The court’s decision on such requests is normally delivered within a few weeks. Then the court will begin to review the merits of the case and for the next several years will hear the arguments put forward by the parties and make relevant decisions.
Azerbaijan’s legal actions against Armenia do not stop there. Azerbaijan intends to file interstate complaints on a number of other conventions.
“Azerbaijan’s position has always been based on international law. Azerbaijan is a country whose territories have been subjected to military occupation and whose citizens have been ethnically cleansed. Azerbaijan is in the right, and we will make sure that this work continues,” the MFA’s statement says.
Translated from 1news.az