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Information paper on the death cases in the Republic of Armenia and Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces in 2019

February 5, 2020

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The number of death cases in the army was and still continues to be concerning. During the first month of 2020, 4 death cases were already recorded. 

 

On January 10, 2020, RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan expressed his opinion on his Facebook page, ″In 2019, historical minimum of death cases was recorded in the army. This means that our army has never recorded as small a number of victims as in 2019″. 

 

Having published annual reports on the death cases of Republic of Armenia and Republic of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces since 2010, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor touched upon the ″historical minimum″ mentioned by the Prime Minister. The information paper clearly presents the number of death cases in the armed forces during 2010-2019. According to it, as compared to 2019, fewer death cases were also recorded in 2011, 2013, 2014.

 

Let us remind that the materials of annual information papers are collected from information disseminated by mass media, official sources, as well as official structures, namely, RA Ministry of Defense, RA Central Military Prosecutor’s Office and RA Investigative Committee. 

 

Data regarding the death cases of servicemen in the Republic of Armenia and Republic of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces were collected from the RA Military Prosecutor’s Office as 49 cases and RA Ministry of Defense as 47 cases. These data do not include the number of servicemen who died in Republic of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army in October-November 2019. With regard to the RA Investigative Committee as a third official source, their data shows that 28 death cases of servicemen were recorded in the Republic of Armenia and Republic of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces in 2019. It is noteworthy that the Investigative Committee gave 1 serviceman’s name, about whom the above-mentioned 2 official sources did not provide any data.  

 

It turns out that besides the 49 cases provided by the Military Prosecutor’s Office, there is also one death case caused by a car crash, which was not recorded by the other 2 structures, whereas the Investigative Committee recorded it. 

 

Combining the RA Military Prosecutor’s Office and RA Investigative Committee data, HCA Vanadzor recorded in its information paper that in 2019, a total of 50 servicemen’s death cases were recorded in the Republic of Armenia and Republic of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces. 

 

It is noteworthy that before official clarifications, we were only informed about 34 cases from non-official public sources.  

 

16 of the above-mentioned 50 cases were caused by car crash, 13 were a result of health problems, 10 were suicide or inciting suicide, 5 cases were caused by murders, 4 were caused by ceasefire violations, 2 were caused by accidents. It should also be added that 49 cases provided by the RA Military Prosecutor’s Office and 1 case provided by the Investigative Committee were classified according to being related or not related to military service.

 

1 of the 16 cases resulting from car crashes was related to military service, 15 were not. Information on 1 of the 15 cases was given only by the RA Investigative Committee, 1 of the 13 cases resulting from health problems was related to military service, 12 were not related to military service, 7 of the 10 cases of suicide or inciting suicide were related to military service, 3 were not, 5 murder cases and 4 ceasefire violation cases were related to military service.  

 

Through comparisons, HCA Vanadzor notices that 63 servicemen’s death cases were recorded in 2018, 17 of which were caused by car crash, 13 were caused by health problems, 11 were caused by suicide or inciting suicide, 7 were caused by ceasefire violations, 7 were caused by accidents, 5 were caused by murders, 2 were caused by breach of flight rules, 1 was caused by a mine explosion. 

 

In 2019, 4 servicemen died as a result of ceasefire violations, 46 servicemen died in non-combat conditions. In the number of death cases in non-combat conditions, as in previous years, a great number is taken by cases caused by car crashes (15), health problems (13), as well as cases qualified as suicide (10). 

 

In 2018, 7 servicemen died as a result of ceasefire violations, 56 servicemen died in non-combat conditions. Respectively, there is a great number of death cases caused by car crashes (17), death cases caused by health problems (13) and cases qualified as suicide (11) among the death cases in non-combat conditions.  

 

Thus, HCA Vanadzor records that both in 2018 and in 2019, the main causes of death cases in non-combat conditions were car crashes, health problems and cases qualified as suicide. Once more we express our concern that improper provision of maintenance and exploitation of automotive machinery, medical examination, service and aid provision, improper provision of military discipline still remain unsolved in the armed forces.  

 

We find it necessary to mention that as compared to 2018,  in 2019, there was a certain decrease in the number of death cases in the Republic of Armenia and Republic of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces: thus, death cases caused by ceasefire violations decreased by 3 or 43%, death cases caused by car crashes decreased by 1 or 9%, death cases caused by suicide  decreased by 1 or 10%, death cases caused by accidents decreased by 5 or 71%. The number of death cases caused by health problems and murders, including intentional murders and cases resulting from breach of the rules of handling weapon remains the same. 

 

Classifying death cases as related and not related to military services, official sources interpret them in different ways. According to the information provided to HCA Vanadzor by the RA Military Prosecutor’s Office, ″...the situation, specific circumstances of the case and the relation of the death cause to the fulfillment of service obligations are taken into account″, while the Investigative Committee clarifies, ″the conclusion regarding the relation of the death case to military service is made only based on the factual data confirmed as a result of comprehensive, full and objective investigation of the case circumstances by the investigator conducting the proceedings of the case″.

 

The RA Military Prosecutor’s Office data combined with the RA Investigative Committee data show that 30 out of 50 death cases recorded in Republic of Armenia and Republic of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces are considered as not related to military service. 15 of them were caused by car crash, 12 were caused by health problems, 3 were caused by suicide or inciting suicide. Along with this, the RA MoD and Military Prosecutor’s Office considered 20 out of 50 cases as related to military service. 7 of them were caused by suicide or inciting suicide, 4 were caused by ceasefire violations, 5 were caused by murder, 2 were caused by accidents, 1 was caused by car crash and 1 was caused by health problems. 

 

HCA Vanadzor distinguishes between two big subgroups of death cases in the armed forces, namely, death cases caused by ceasefire violations and death cases in non-combat conditions. In our opinion, irrespective of the condition whether the serviceman died in the place of military service or not, we consider it as a loss of the armed forces, since all the servicemen are included in the number of the armed forces. Moreover, the cases where a serviceman dies as a result of a car crash or as a result of suicide committed at home, as mentioned in certain cases, are also considered a loss of the armed forces, since only the preliminary investigation can give a final conclusion whether a death case outside of the military service is related to military service conditions or not.  

 

Thus, HCA Vanadzor counts death cases in the armed forces according to the fact of being registered in the military service and no reasoning for not informing about the recorded death cases is acceptable for us. 

 

In the information paper we also presented publicized and unpublicized death cases of servicemen in 2019. Thus, only from online platforms we learnt about 34 death cases recorded in the Republic of Armenia and Republic of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces in 2019, 12 of which occurred as a result of car crashes, 9 occurred as a result of suicide or inciting suicide, 5 occurred as a result of murder, 4 occurred as a result of ceasefire violations, 3 occurred as a result of health problems, 1 occurred as a result of an accident. With regard to 19 out of 34 cases, the primary source was official sources or information disseminated by officials on their social accounts. 9 cases were confirmed by officials during their conversation with mass media, 6 cases were confirmed only by mass media, in 2 cases of which mass media referred to a response letter by the RA Prosecutor’s Office. No information was disseminated on 16 cases by official sources or mass media. HCA Vanadzor was informed about those cases by response letters from the RA Military Prosecutor’s Office.  

 

According to the available data, 15 out of 50 military servicemen were compulsory military servicemen, 19 were contract servicemen, 4 were officers, 5 were subordinate officers, in 7 cases servicemen’s service type or rank are not mentioned.  35 out of 50 death cases occurred in the territory of the Republic of Armenia, 14 occurred in the territory of the Republic of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh, the geographical location of 1 case is not known. 

 

It is obvious that in both 2018 and 2019, the majority of death cases of servicemen occurred in the territory of the Republic of Armenia

 

HCA Vanadzor also examined the statistics of ceasefire violations and gunfires on the line of contact with Azerbaijan. According to it, in 2019, as compared to 2018, the number of ceasefire violations decreased by 205, the number of gunfires decreased by more than 16,400  and the number of entailing death cases decreased by 3

 

Let us remind that according to the agreement made between the RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Dushanbe, capital city of Tajikistan, necessary measures were taken to prevent ceasefire violations along the Armenia-Azerbaijan and Karabakh-Azerbaijan contact line. Though the agreement was not always adhered to, death cases resulting from ceasefire violations decreased, in particular, 10,010 ceasefire violation cases were recorded during October 2018-December 31, 2019, 98,600 gunfires were shot, as a result of which 4 servicemen died.

 

In the annual information paper, HCA Vanadzor also touched upon the criminal cases initiated on servicemen’s death cases in 2019. Criminal cases were initiated, under different Articles, on 38 out of 50 death cases that occurred in 2019. 24 of the mentioned 38 cases are in the preliminary investigation stage, 7 are in the trial stage, 5 cases were later discontinued for different reasons, 2 cases were suspended based on insuperable force.  Initiation of criminal cases was rejected for 9 cases, nothing is known regarding the proceedings of 3 cases.

 

The complete information paper is available HERE (in Armenian)

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