A legal Assessment of Azerbaijan’s Violations of Human and Humanitarian Laws

Screenshot (25)The Human Rights Defender’s office of Nagorno Karabakh has issued a legal assessment of Azerbaijan’s violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws against Nagorno Karabakh Republic forces and NKR civilians.

The legal assessment points out to Azerbaijan’s practice of “human shielding” by stationing military centers in and around Azerbaijani civilian centers, from which they shell and indirectly attack Armenian military targets and settlements near the line of contact. Intentional deployment of military forces near civilian settlements violates article 28 section IV of the Geneva Convention. The Criminal Code of Azerbaijan also prohibits use of civilian centers to shield military objectives. Azerbaijani aggression from civilian settlements leaves no option for NKR forces but to attempt to eliminate Azerbaijani military targets while taking all precaution to minimize collateral damage. Because of their multiple violations of humanitarian law, “Azerbaijan is directly responsible for any damage inflicted upon its civilians and the civilian property alike”.

Additionally, in opposition to the Geneva Convention’s code of distinction, Azerbaijan has made use of indiscriminate weaponry, such as thermobaric missile systems and cluster rockets, that pose a threat to NKR civilian populations. Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons – a 1980 United Nations convention that seeks to restrict the use of weapons whose effects are indiscriminate or excessively injurious – prohibits the use of incendiary weapons, or, weapons that are designed to set fire to objects or cause burns through flame, heat, or any combination thereof. Azerbaijan has failed to react to calls from the international community to cease the use of these weapons, despite the frequent reports from human rights organizations that cluster munitions in populated areas amounts to a war crime due to their indiscriminate nature.

The report also mentions that since April 2, Azerbaijani military forces have been responsible for inhuman treatment, torture and mutilation against NKR servicemen and women, as well as civilians in settlements near the line of contact.