Missing persons and their families still face legal and informational uncertainty10:10, August 31, 2016 | News, Own news | The Rights of Conflict Victims
In 1982, August 30 was for the first time declared in Latin America as the International Day of Missing Persons. Today, this day is marked not only in Latin America but also in many countries around the world. In the 3 countries of the South Caucasus, the International Day of Missing Persons was first marked simultaneously in 2004, by the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly offices in the South Caucasus in the cities below: Yerevan, Vanadzor, Stepanakert, Baku, Ganja and Tbilisi.
According to the data presented by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2015, the Organization’s offices in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh registered 4496 missing persons, with 405 of them from Armenia and 372 from Nagorno-Karabakh.
According to the official data of the RA, the number of the missing persons from RA in 1988-2005 makes 437, with 224 military servicemen and 213 civilians. As for NKR, the number of missing persons is considered to make 723, with 250 military servicemen and 473 civilians.
On the first days of the 4-day war of April 2-5 2016, 18 military servicemen were considered missing; the data on the fate and whereabouts of those persons were made public upon delivery of their bodies by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The 4-day April war once again put on the agenda the need to pass the draft RA Law on Missing Person, which can both have a preventive role, and make it possible to ensure the right of the families of missing persons to obtain information on their fate and whereabouts and protect the other rights of their families.
The fact is that the legal regulations stipulated in the by-laws existing so far are ineffective and fail to ensure the right to information of the families of the missing persons and their access to social, psychological, legal and other assistance; yet, the RA authorities carry on considering the adoption of the draft RA Law on Missing Person not pressing.
To protect the rights of missing persons and their families, starting from 2001 HCA Vanadzor has initiated drawing up the draft RA Law on Missing Person. As a result of lengthy actions, in March 2010, the issue of comprehensive preparation of the draft RA Law on Missing Person was put on the agenda of the state authorities. In March 2010, the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated preparation of the draft RA Law on Missing Person involving representatives of a number of state agencies: RA National Assembly, Office of the RA President, Ministry of Defense, Police, National Security Service, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Human Rights Defender’s Office, International Committee of the Red Cross and Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor.
HCA Vanadzor expresses its concern over the continuous delay in passing the RA Law on Missing Person arguing once again that the state should assume responsibility before its missing citizens and their families by passing a relevant law. At the same time, we remind once again that as a State Party to the Geneva Conventions, the Republic of Armenia is under obligation to create a relevant legislative and institutional basis under the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.
It is only by passing and enforcing the Law that the State can secure their responsibility for protection of the rights of missing persons and their families.
In fact, the commitment of the RA to pass the Law is enshrined in the relevant Report of March 7, 2007 of Leo Platvoet, Rapporteur on Missing Persons in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population.
We welcome the special attention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights to the issues of the missing persons and believe that as a Council of Europe member state, the Republic of Armenia should exert adequate efforts to secure the resolution and approaches above.
August 30, 2016