Journalists and Lawyers will Prosecute Azerbaijan
A group of lawyers and journalists initiated a procedure of prosecuting Azerbaijan in the international courts related to the April armed clashes in the zone of NK conflict. At this moment they are conducting a fact-finding activity in order to apply to corresponding international institutions after collecting sufficient facts and evidences about the crimes committed by Azerbaijan. The institutions are the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Criminal Court.

“We came up with this initiative after long deliberations about what the representatives of civil society can do to demonstrate the military crimes of Azerbaijan during the April war and to challenge them at court,” Lilit Lalayan, Head of “Media and Right” NGO, said.  

Advocate Nikolay Baghdasaryan said that the issue of prosecuting Azerbaijan should have a legal solution besides the political one. “There are corresponding mechanisms and international legal procedures for it,” he said.

Members of the initiative Lilit Lalayan and Lawyer Nikolay Baghdasaryan presented their further activities and plans during the press conference on “Upcoming Activities of Journalists and Lawyers about Prosecuting Azerbaijan” at Media Center on May 23. “First, a fact-finding activity should be conducted. We should collect irrefutable and incontrovertible evidences about war crimes, the use of prohibited arms such as "Smerch". It can be photos, videos, media reports, Defense Ministry materials and so on,” Lilit Lalayan said. 

Though the initiative was launched some weeks ago and a few individual journalists, journalistic companies and lawyers have joined it, the members of the initiative are hopeful that more colleagues will join them from both fields. “We call upon our colleagues to join this initiative as our aim is not just to accuse anyone but to try to achieve peace and to avoid the repetition of the April events. Our goal is peace,” Lalayan said and added that the journalists will carry out the fact finding activity and the lawyers will organise the judicial procedure.

Nikolay Baghdasaryan said that there are two main international judicial bodies where the members of the initiative will submit claims after gathering sufficient evidences and facts. They are European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and International Criminal Court.

“We should understand and differentiate the following nuances.  ECHR may be applied by a victim who has suffered from the given situation, and the International Criminal Court may be applied by the government, the UN Security Council and a prosecutor of the International Criminal Court who may initiate proceedings on its own initiative. At ECHR the respondent is a state, at the International Criminal Court not a state is a subject to liability but citizens,” the advocate clarified and added that there is a chance of success at the international judicial bodies. 

Although Armenia has not ratified the Rome Statute serving as the basis for the International Criminal Court, and cannot apply as a state, the process can be carried out by the UN Security Council.

“Of course, everything is not going smoothly here, as there are at least two countries (he did not mention the states) at the UN Security Council which can veto and the case would not go to court. However, the recent practical developments of the international law show that the UN Security Council often avoids suspension of such cases and sends them to the court, leaving everything to the discretion of the prosecutor. Therefore, in order the Security Council considers our claim, it is necessary to raise  noise and movement on this issue through the media and international lawyers,” Baghdasaryan said and added that a prestigious International lawyer from the United States is already in touch with them and expressed his willingness "to support the case". 

Lilit Lalayan said that they already made the list of international media which were in Artsakh during the war or the days following it and covered the events. “We sent letters to the media representatives and asked to provide not only the published materials, but also the ones which were not published, the so-called raw materials. Our goal is to collect sufficient and irrefutable evidences of criminal offenses committed by Azerbaijan,” she concluded. 

Arshaluys Mghdesyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

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