Nagorno-Karabakh’s unrecognized status major impediment to building accomplished institute of human rights defense – ombudsman  

12:43 • 26.08.17



In an interview with Tert.am, Ombudsman of the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) Republic Ruben Melikyan addressed the situation with human rights in his country, the activities of his mission and the existing problems. He highlighted the respect for human rights as a major principle governing his institute’s work, meantime admitting that the country’s unrecognized status is still a major impediment to future success.


Mr Melikyan, in war-torn countries like Artsakh, human rights are thought to be a kind of secondary issue always pushed to the background. What attention does human protection receive in the Artsakh Republic?


What we have to bear in mind is that the Artsakh Movement was a movement of human rights. And that implied that respect for human rights was the underlying principle behind state-building in Artsakh. On the other hand, there are such problems as the unrecognized status and the existing permanent threat [of a renewed war]. These are factors which, some way or another, produce their influence in the course of time. In my understanding, the state and political system, and the society in Artsakh are highly inclined to [the protection of] human rights; so we are really taking steps in that direction.


Do you annually receive applications complaining about violations of human rights, and if so, which are the main sectors your citizens mostly encounter problems in?


We receive annually 130-140 applications. If we make comparisons, most of the problems are in the social sector. And it is explicable as social programs are predominant in Artsakh. The applications vary in content, often addressing the judiciary, for example, or freedom of the individual etc. Yes, they are few in number, but we have applications highlighting violations in practically all the sector.

Which institutions in Artsakh are largely responsible for human rights violations and what institutions’ work are the citizens’ applications concerned with?


We draw up the statistics relying on the nature of rights. In point of fact, we have no institutions standing out from others, as there are public administration bodies – such as the police, local government agencies and the educational sector – which deal with human rights more. They have the highest number of workplaces, etc. Also, there are sectors which objectively have less to do with human rights; this is why I am not inclined to make any analyses based on the number of the applications filed.

The Ombudsman’s Office is not vested with the authority to enforce punitive measures. So the question is whether the Artsskh Police, military or [government bodies exercising functions] in other spheres consider your approaches, or do they stick to their former practices?

 
What I can say is that we do our work relying on two key factors. First, the preliminary prevention of, and coordinated solution to, problems is more important to us than the prioritization of individual problems. Secondly, we never forget the de-facto state of affairs and always try to be realistic. In that respect, we have a considerable success in the protection of human rights in Artsakh. But it isn’t subject to publication; what really matters to us is an understanding by our partners that our task is to offer solution to problems rather than make them public. We have certain success but we aren’t yet satisfied with the results. So we are going to continue working.

 
Protection from torture is a fundamental human right. What is the situation in Artsakh in that particular sphere, especially in the defense, security and law-enforcement agencies?


That’s really an important sphere, and we had reports addressing especially the penitentiary institutions. But the applications didn’t deal with torture in essence. We are active in penitentiaries where we do not definitely observe any problems. But we are going to keep the sphere under a permanent spotlight as this is a major indicator in terms of exercising the principle of human rights. Yet, the absence of reports does not allow us to state that we do not really have problems here. This is an issue which must be permanently in focus

 

Ani Ohanyan





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