Elkhan Suleymanov, member of Azerbaijani delegation to PACE, submitted a motion to the Secretariat on ensuring the right of Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev to fair trial during January session of PACE. The motion for resolution is currently on Assembly’s official website. As an Azerbaijani representative, Elkhan Suleymanov is also a member of PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. Therefore, Elkhan Suleymanov answers APA’s questions regarding the essence of the motion, as well as perspectives of considering the cases of Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev before the European Court of Human Rights:
– You tabled a motion for resolution on ensuring the right of Azerbaijanis, who were taken hostage in the occupied Kalbajar region, to fair trial within January session of PACE. Interestingly, this is the 3rd motion tabled on the issue of Nagorno Karabakh.
– In fact, I have submitted 3 motions to PACE for the last year. All of them dealt with armed aggression of Armenia against our country and occupation of our territories for over 22 years.
The first motion dealt with threats of possible humanitarian and environmental catastrophe in 6 frontier provinces of Azerbaijan due to the occupation of Sarsang reservoir for over 22 years. PACE member Ms. Milica Markovic from Bosnia and Herzegovina was appointed as a rapporteur on this motion in Social Affairs Committee. The rapporteur already visited our country and held meetings in frontier provinces of Azerbaijan suffering from dangerous situation emerged in Sarsang reservoir.
The second document submitted to PACE is the motion on “Escalation of tension in Nagorno Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan”, for which British MP Mr. Robert Walter was appointed as a rapporteur in Political Affairs Committee. We demand to apply sanctions against aggressor Armenia through this document. The rapporteur now works on the report.
It should also be noted that we faced strong resistance of anti-Azerbaijani forces in PACE after submittal of both motions. Thus, all anti-Azerbaijani forces and Armenian lobbies were mobilized under PACE leadership and with direct involvement of Secretariat in order to block and exclude our motions from the agenda. We managed to overcome their attacks and won the first stage. We’d like to believe that rapporteurs will be objective and principled in the preparation of the report.
Finally, I submitted the 3rd motion for resolution during PACE plenary session in January of 2015, which dealt with ensuring the right of hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev to fair trial.
This motion was signed by 46 MPs representing 24 PACE member states. It should be noted that according to Rules of Procedure, a motion shall be included in the agenda after being signed by 20 MPs representing at least 5 member states. Apparently, the Rules of Procedure was observed, and hopefully, the issue will be considered in Presidential Committee and Bureau in near future.
– How do you evaluate the perspectives of raising the case on ensuring the right of Azerbaijanis, who were taken hostage in Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan, to fair trial before the European Court of Human Rights?
– As you know, Dilgam Asgarov, a Russian citizen, and Shahbaz Guliyev, an Azerbaijani citizen were taken hostage by Armenian forces in June of 2014, while visiting their native region, the occupied Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan. The other Azerbaijani citizen Hasan Hasanov was shot and killed, his body being handed over afterwards for burial to the Azerbaijani side.
These territories are within the internationally recognized boundaries of Azerbaijan and are Azerbaijani territories. The citizens of Azerbaijan are entitled to move freely within their countries, and their actions can only be restricted under the Azerbaijani legislation. Therefore, civilians didn’t commit any criminal or illegal action while visiting their native lands.
Thus, in case of any violation or illegal actions in these territories, these cases should be considered within the jurisdiction of Azerbaijani courts. And this can be realized only at peace, when these territories are not under occupation.
However, these territories are currently under military occupation of Armenia and according to international and legal laws, aggressor Armenia is responsible for occupation not only before Azerbaijan, but also before the international community as a whole. Thus, this is Armenia, which bears responsibility for developments due to any action or inaction in the occupied territories. This should be a focus of attention. Therefore, only Armenia is responsible for hostage of civilians in the occupied territories.
On the other hand, trial of civilians, who were taken hostage in the occupied territories, is a serious violation of international humanitarian and legal norms. The key point of attention is that civilians taken hostage by Armenian army were not tried by an Armenian court. This is a deliberate action, not a coincidence. Armenian side wants to insure itself from being involved in international responsibility by distancing itlsef from this issue.
Armenia established an aggressive regime named «Nagorno Karabakh Republic» with the representation of Armenians living in the occupied territories namely for protecting itself from legal responsibility before the international community. At the same time, this regime is essentially a separatist regime, and was recognized by any state or international organization. Therefore, the “entity” named “Nagorno Karabakh Republic” is not the subject of international law; this “entity” is illegitimate and at best may be reviewed as unrecognized separatist political entity.
Apparently, the “court of first instance” of “Nagorno Karabakh Republic”, the unrecognized separatist political entity is illegitimate; the sentence of this “court” on D.Asgarov and Sh.Guliyev have no any legal force, and trial of these people by illegitimate “court” is just a game.
The fact is that the “court” that pronounced the sentences has neither the legal recognition from a judicial authority of any state, as it was established by an unrecognized separatist political entity, nor does it adhere to the fundamental principles that govern the proceedings of a court of law, as it lacks the oversight and guiding rules derived from that unrecognized separatist political entity being a signatory of international treaties that guarantee either human rights or the rule of law. Therefore, it is impossible to apply to the European Court of Human Rights regarding the decision of “the first instance court” of “Nagorno Karabakh Republic”, unrecognized separatist political entity, regarding the cases of D.Asgarov and Sh.Guliyev, and such a step taken as a political action or dividend would be completely harmful. Thus, there is no perspective of the cases of D.Asgariv and Sh.Guliyev to be considered in the European Court of Human Rights.
However, it would be more perspective to approach the case from a different context. As we underlined above, the aggressive Republic of Armenia should be responsible for ensuring the rights of Azerbaijani civilians taken hostage in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Moreover, Azerbaijan and Armenia undertook an obligation on peaceful resolution of Nagorno Karabakh issue upon accession to the Council of Europe (See: Opinions № 221 and 222, 2000). At the same time, Republic of Armenia also obliged itself to influence the separatist regime named “Nagorno Karabakh Republic” formed by itself.
On the other hand, Republic of Azerbaijan made a following reservation upon accession to the Council of Europe in 2001 and ratification of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: “The Republic of Azerbaijan declares that it is unable to guarantee the application of the provisions of the Convention in the territories occupied by the Republic of Armenia until these territories are liberated from that occupation (the schematic map of the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan is enclosed).
Furthermore, as for the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, according to well-known “Loizidou vs. Turkey” case, the Contracting Party, which exercises the effective control of territories, is fully responsible for all acts of public authorities in those territories. Obviously, the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights constitute a precedent; consequently, this is Armenia, which is responsible for developments in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
It should be noted that the other documents adopted by the Council of Europe in this and further periods afford ground for raising claims against the Republic of Armenia for any legal violations in the occupied Azerbaijani territories. It should be noted that Article 2 (Right to live), Article 3 (Prohibition of torture), Article 5 (Right to liberty and security), and Article 6 (Right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights were grossly violated in cases of civilians Dilgam Asgarov, Shahbaz Guliyev, and late Hasan Hasanov. Therefore, the claim should be raised against the Republic of Armenia due to the violation of the above-mentioned articles of the European Convention regarding the hostages.
Thus, I would like to remind that Azerbaijani internally displaced people raised a claim against Armenia before the European Court of Human Rights. This is “Chiragov and others vs. Armenia” case forwarded by 6 internally displaced people against Armenia before the European Court of Human Rights in 2005. The European Court of Human Rights confirmed the aggressive acts of Armenia and occupation of Azerbaijani territories.
– What could you tell about the perspectives of consideration of the motion on ensuring the right of these hostages to fair trial?
– I submitted the motion for resolution on ensuring the right of these hostages to fair trial in compliance with Rules of Procedure, and the motion has already been placed on the official website of the Assembly. According to the RoP, motion shall first be considered at the meeting of Presidential Committee, and then be forwarded to Bureau under the decision of this meeting. Afterwards, Bureau shall make an adequate decision and refer the document to one of the Committees for appointing a rapporteur.
An independent report shall be prepared on the motion for comprehensive presentation of the issue to the world community, and the Assembly shall be urged to release these hostages under specific article in the report. If such a motion is adopted, then the Republic of Armenia shall either implement its obligations voluntarily or be forced to ensure the rights of the hostages through the European Court of Human Rights. Nevertheless, as you know, international organizations patronize Armenia. Despite the fact that the above-mentioned 2 motions were vetoed for several times, we succeeded to get them adopted after very tense struggle. We shall have to struggle intensely for getting this motion adopted.
Therefore, let us not ride before the hounds and wait for real result.