ISSN 2330-717X

Neither Armenia Nor Azerbaijan Appears Interested In Investigating War Crimes By Its Own Soldiers – OpEd

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One of the most hopeful developments in the wake of the 44-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020 was Baku’s announcement that it had launched an investigation of four of its soldiers who are suspected of committing war crimes against Armenian combatants (genprosecutor.gov.az/az/post/3271).

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A first for Azerbaijan, this announcement raised hopes in many quarters that the two sides in this long-running conflict might be able to overcome some of the bitterness between them, that Baku was committing itself to international standards in this area, and even that the Azerbaijani authorities might be ready to adopt a more humane approach to domestic opponents.

But now, 12 months later, nothing more has been heard about this case despite numerous national and international efforts to find out where it stands. Armenia has not launched any investigations of its soldiers for equivalent crimes against Azerbaijanis, as Baku invariably points out. And as a result, the hopes of a year ago appear to have been dashed.

Human rights groups and the Council of Europe have pressed Baku for information on the investigation it reported launching a year ago but so far without success (russian.eurasianet.org/спустя-год-после-арестов-за-военные-преступления-азербайджан-хранит-молчаниеphronline.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/NK_final_report_2021.pdfhrw.org/news/2021/03/19/azerbaijan-armenian-pows-abused-custody and coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/humanitarian-and-human-rights-protection-needed-following-the-2020-outbreak-of-hostilities-between-armenia-and-azerbaijan-over-nagorno-karabakh%5C).

Armenia has joined in the international criticism of Baku’s failure to act, but Baku has responded by pointing out that it has at least raised the issue while Armenia seems committed to stonewalling all attempts to bring its own soldiers to justice for such crimes (rm.coe.int/commdhgovrep-2021-13-comments-by-azerbaijan-on-memorandum-of-coe-hr-co/1680a46e1d).

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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