Human rights organization petitions ICC to investigate alleged genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh News, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Human rights organization petitions ICC to investigate alleged genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh

The Center for Truth and Justice (CFTJ), a human rights organization based in Armenia, published a report Thursday purporting that acts of genocide have been committed in the Nagorno-Karabakh region since 2021.

The region is located within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of Armenian forces since 1994 and is home to the breakaway state of Artsakh. The CFTJ report requested “the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor to open a preliminary examination of the situation in Armenia since May 12, 2021, both to prevent and to punish the perpetrators of the genocide committed against ethnic Armenians.”

The CFTJ report claims that Azerbaijani armed forces met both the actus reus and mens rea elements for genocide, prohibited under Article II(c) of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Under this provision, “genocide” is defined as “deliberately inflicting upon the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction in whole or in part.”

The CFTJ claims that Azerbaijani security forces intimidated and removed ethnic Armenians from their native lands during their military aggressions in Nogorno-Karabakh in 2021 and in subsequent attacks. The report says that instances of torture, arbitrary detentions and extrajudicial killings were also documented. The attacks allegedly included an “ethnic cleansing” in the region in September 2023. In September 2023, Azerbaijan conducted a military operation in the disputed region and ended Armenian control, which led to the official dissolution of the State of Artsakh and the flight of almost the entire population inhabiting the region to Armenia. CFTJ also claims that statements and speeches by Armenian President Ilham Aliyev and state policy demonstrate an intent to commit genocide against ethnic Armenians.

Related disputes are also being heard in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the long-standing conflict between the two countries over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan is bound to certain obligations towards the Armenian people under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), according to the ICJ, such as allowing the safe and unhindered return of Armenian citizens who left Nagorno-Karabakh, in addition to ensuring that those who chose to stay are equally and properly treated.