“Azerbaijan's Decision to Open a Criminal Case against Members of the Council of Europe: What Counter Measures should Armenia Take?”
Azerbaijan's activity in recent years constantly makes "new achievements" in terms of human rights in a negative meaning; they constantly take unprecedented steps that make international human rights community uncertain.

Ruben Melikyan, Human Rights Defender of Artsakh, said this during the discussion at Media Center today.

Ara Papyan, Founder, and Head of the Modus Vivendi Center, Ambassador Extraordinary, and Plenipotentiary, Ara Zohrabyan, Chairman of the Chamber of Advocates of the Republic of Armenia, Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan, Political Scientist, also participated in the discussion.

As it is known, Azerbaijan has declared a prosecution against the three MPs of the European Union because they visited Artsakh and observed the constitutional referendum held on February 20.

“This is a new challenge that is directly addressed to the European political community, Artsakh Ombudsman said, and we will try and are trying to provide accessible information and motivate to our colleagues to pay more attention to the Artsakh issue. This gives us an additional opportunity, which we will try to benefit from it to a greater extent and make Artsakh the subject of international attention as much as possible.”    

Ara Zohrabyan says that in the case of Russian blogger Lapshin the situation was different because Belarus did not sign the European Convention.

“The only way to have an impact is the UN pipe, which turned out not to be as effective. Lapshin will be a Troyan horse for them, they will fail in their further attempts concerning the deputies. Azerbaijan has the image of an aggressor for the international community it prosecutes the people who have political beliefs,” Zohrabyan said.

Referring to the legal basis, Zohrabyan noted that there is the European Convention, which ensures the guarantee ofimposing punishment based on the law.

“This means that states may impose punishment only for the actions, defined by law. Azerbaijan accuses the three MPs of crossing the border. Yet, in accordance with Article 318 of the "Criminal Code", the crossing is considered only in case of the state border protected by Azerbaijan. Whatever they speak, it is indisputable that the state border of Artsakh is not controlled by them in any way. This fact alone is evidence that they can not apply that article in relation to anyone. So, their arguments are not legitimate,” Zohrabyan said.  

The second problem is that, according to Zohrabyan, the European Convention provides for the prohibition of discrimination.

"It means that no one can be prosecuted for any of his political views. In this case, the 3 MPs coming to Artsakh and attending the referendum, showed their views by their behavior,” Zohrabyan said.

Ara Papyan said that there were many people whom he personally accompanied to Artsakh. Some were not intimidated, took photos and released on the Internet but some refused. He emphasized that it was a very personal decision.

“The coverage of the conflict in a natural state and there should not be an obstacle, especially for journalists. The same should be in terms of Members of the Parliament, people are engaged in politics professionally, they should know the reality ... It contributes to conflict resolution and Azerbaijan's position forbids, it creates obstacles to solve the conflict in a peaceful way,” Papyan said.

Political analyst Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan talked about the required measures for the campaign. "The relevant institutions who work with Interpol should be able to present evidence in legal terms so that they understand the real goals of Azerbaijan that there is no legal but a political persecution. Azerbaijan creates noise and tries to involve everyone in it. We are, unfortunately, also involved, since there is no other option.”

He questions the phenomenon of "black list" itself in legal terms. He stressed that people visiting Artsakh should realize that they are visiting a country that does not have international distribution and understand that if they are in any non-democratic country, they will have problems.

"We can not declare that we will guarantee that they will not have troubles under the jurisdiction of other countries” he added.

To watch the video, follow the link.  

Lilit Arakelyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to lilitarakelyan@pjc.am.

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