Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

The serviceman considered missing by the MoD has been at home for more than 20 days

January 21, 2021

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In December 2020, the mother of a missing serviceman applied to HCA Vanadzor and informed that her son, who had participated in war actions in Jabrayil and then in Hadrut, had got in touch with her on October 15 for the last time. The parent asked HCA Vanadzor for support to get some information about her son.


Though it has been more than 20 days since the serviceman was found, in response to our inquiry, the RA Ministry of Defense informed and claimed that the search operations continued and the missing serviceman had not been found. This may be a rare case, however, a question arises: does the Ministry of Defense coordinate the data of missing servicemen and does it fulfill the state’s obligation of searching for information on a missing serviceman’s fate and whereabouts and providing this information to his relatives based on a proper database or not?


Serviceman D.S.’s mother informed HCA Vanadzor that the same phone number was also used by other servicemen, and on October 16, the phone number became unavailable, because the battery was not charged. The parents received information that a group of servicemen, including D.S., had been hiding in the forest since October 16, however, the responsible structures took no action to find out their place. On their own initiative, they did not manage to enter that area, as the adversary did not allow them to. The latest information received by the parents was through a Karabakh Telecom operator who transferred the information provided by the soldiers, according to which, there were wounded soldiers among them and they needed help. The parents applied to the RA MoD Commission on issues of servicemen captured and missing during military operations, however, instead of taking action, the Commission advised the parents to apply to the NSS to find out where the phone call was made from.


HCA Vanadzor provided this information to the RA Ministry of Defense in written form and asked for information regarding the actions taken to find the servicemen, and whether they cooperated with the Red Cross and Russian peacekeepers.


The Ministry of Defense responded to HCA Vanadzor only on January 12 and informed that the serviceman’s data were included in the list of missing persons and that the search operations continued. Whereas, before getting the MoD’s response, the serviceman’s mother had already informed us that the serviceman had long been found and was at home.


The Ministry of Defense dated the letter January 12, HCA Vanadzor received it on January 19. The serviceman had been found 22 days before the letter was written, but the MoD factually did not know about it. 


On 5 October 2020, one week after the war actions started, HCA Vanadzor decided to collect information on servicemen considered to be missing, based on the data provided by their relatives. 5 employees of HCA Vanadzor were involved in information collection work, and they, so to speak, worked around the clock.   

That data were regularly checked and continue to be checked based on the newly revealed data, and based on the agreement made in advance, the data were sent to the relevant subdivision of the Ministry of Defense. All this was done based on the assumption that during the war, the Ministry of Defense, according to the state’s obligations, should make and manage such a database on those missing, and we wanted to have our contribution to that work. We assumed that the state bodies should have a unified database on which to search for and manage the information on the fate and place of those missing and to provide this information to their relatives.


Now, a question arises whether such a database exists and different state bodies act based on that unified database or not.


One thing is clear: without such a database, it is impossible for the state to properly and effectively implement its obligations in terms of searching for missing persons and eliminating such inadmissible cases. 



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