NEW YORK (RFE/RL) — United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has complained that his Geneva-based office has been unable to send fact-finding missions to Nagorno-Karabakh so far.
“My Office has had no access to the conflict situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, including since the events of April 2016,” Zeid told a session of the UN Human Rights Council this week.
“Consequently, conflicting claims of human rights violations cannot be verified, and the plight of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and refugees has not received the kind of human rights scrutiny that it deserves for the past decades – either from my Office or from the international community,” he said.
A senior aide to Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president, on Thursday blamed Azerbaijan for a lack of such attention. The official, Davit Babayan, said that Baku has long opposed visits of representatives of international organizations to Karabakh and has used Azerbaijani internally displaced persons for organizing public relations “shows” for foreign visitors.
“With this statement, the high-ranking UN official is telling Azerbaijan that such shows cannot demonstrate the real picture,” Babayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Babayan also insisted that the Karabakh authorities are ready to receive and cooperate with UN human rights officials. “There are no obstacles from our side,” he said. “We are actually considering a UN offer of future cooperation, which is a welcome step.”
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tigran Balayan, said that official Yerevan is ready to help representatives of Zeid’s office to visit Karabakh. Balayan too accused Baku of impeding such trips.
In his speech at the Geneva meeting, Zeid also criticized the Armenian government. “I also regret that Armenia has so far not accorded full access to our presence in Tbilisi, which supports countries in the South Caucasus,” he said. “We have therefore been unable to cooperate and engage fully with the Government, its state entities and civil society organizations.”
Balayan declined to comment on the criticism, saying that Yerevan will respond to it later on.