Since August 2021, servicemen’s relatives have been applying to HCA Vanadzor, informing that the RA Ministry of Defence does not provide the main vacation established by law and also keeps servicemen in combat duty longer than the terms established.
On 8 October and 6 September 2021, HCA Vanadzor applied to the Ministry of Defence requesting information regarding these issues and claiming to review frequency of compulsory-term servicemen’s combat duty shift terms.
In terms of human rights protection, the MoD violates servicemen’s right to rest by keeping them in combat duty longer than the established terms, which can negatively affect servicemen’s physical and mental health, as well as physical preparedness and proper performance of combat duty.
On 25 September 2021, the RA MoD Secretary General Artur Sargsyan informed in a response letter that based on requirements of Article 9 subpoint 1 of the RA Law On State and Official Secret, he did not find it purposeful to provide information regarding terms of servicemen’s combat duty shifts.
With regard to servicemen who participated in war operations throughout the 44-day war and have not been granted a vacation so far, the RA MoD representative mentioned in the response of 29 November 2021 that it was conditioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back on 25 February 2020, after consultation of the Armed Forces leadership, the Armed Forces shifted to a strict anti epidemic regime. And in terms of measures to prevent penetration of Covid-19, according to the RA Minister of Defence Arshak Karapetyan’s order, compulsory-term servicemen’s release and parents’ visits are prohibited from 14 October 2021 until 16 January 2022.
This is not the first time that the RA Ministry of Defence has manifested a high level of confidentiality when providing information, yet it should be noted that HCA Vanadzor requested from the RA MoD information which falls within the category of information of public importance, i.e., human rights. Besides, the reasons presented in the response letter are not justified in terms of human rights.
In this regard, it should be mentioned that some servicemen are subjected to a discriminatory attitude and none of the mentioned reasons can justify the MoD not ensuring servicemen's right to rest.