European Court of Human Rights decides to indicate interim measures in the “Lachin Corridor”

  • 21.12.2022
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The European Court of Human Rights has today decided to indicate an interim measure in the case Armenia v. Azerbaijan (no. 4) (application no. 15389/22).

The request concerned the alleged blocking of the “Lachin Corridor”, via which Armenian residents in Nagoro-Karbakh access vital services, in particular medical care.

On 21 December 2022 the Court (the President of the Section to which the case had been allocated) examined the request for interim measures lodged by the Government of Armenia. Noting that the extent to which the Government of Azerbaijan were currently in control of the situation in the “Lachin Corridor” was disputed and unclear at this stage, noting in addition the obligation of Azerbaijan under Article 6 of the Trilateral Statement signed on 9 November 2020 to “guarantee the security of persons, vehicles and cargo moving along the Lachin Corridor in both directions” and reminding them of their obligations under the Convention, the Court decided, in the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before it, to indicate to the Government of Azerbaijan, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, to take all measures that are within their jurisdiction to ensure safe passage through the “Lachin Corridor” of seriously ill persons in need of medical treatment in Armenia and others who were stranded on the road without shelter or means of subsistence.

The request is part of the inter-State case Armenia v. Azerbaijan (no. 4), which is concerned with allegations of multiple serious violations of the Convention in the armed dispute around the Nagorno-Karabakh region (see the Q&A on inter-State cases).

Measures under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court are decided in connection with proceedings before the Court, without prejudging any subsequent decisions on the admissibility or merits of the case. The Court grants such requests only on an exceptional basis, when the applicants would otherwise face a real risk of irreversible harm. For further information, see the factsheet on interim measures The applicant in this case is the Government of Armenia. This request has been made in the context of the Armenia v. Azerbaijan (no. 4) case, which is an inter-State case involving allegations of multiple violations of Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment), 6 (right to a fair trial) and 8 (right to respect for private and family life) during the recent armed dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

That application was lodged with the European Court on 24 March 2022. In their request for interim measures, initially submitted on 14 December 2022, the Armenian Government alleged that since 12 December allegedly fake Azerbaijani “environmental activists” had blocked all traffic on the motorway in the Lachin district, thereby preventing seriously ill Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh from travelling to Armenia for much-needed hospital care, stranding other people on the road in freezing winter conditions and cutting off supplies of food and other necessities. About 120,000 Armenians live in the region. The Government of Azerbaijan denied this allegation, stating that the “Lachin Corridor” was under the control of Russian peacekeeping forces. Allegedly, Azerbaijan had also cut off gas supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh, forcing schools to close.

The Azerbaijani Government stated that the State gas company, Azəriqaz, had been attempting to identify the cause of the outages in various parts of Azerbaijan, including the region in question. Media reports stated that the gas supply had been restored on 19 December 2022.

 2 The Armenian Government requested that the Court order Azerbaijan to unblock the “Lachin Corridor” and allow the safe passage of seriously ill and other Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh and restore the supply of natural gas. The Court (the President of the Section to which the case had been allocated) examined the request for interim measures lodged by the Government of Armenia. Noting that the extent to which the Government of Azerbaijan were currently in control of the situation in the “Lachin Corridor” was disputed and unclear at this stage, noting in addition the obligation of Azerbaijan under Article 6 of the Trilateral Statement signed on 9 November 2020 to “guarantee the security of persons, vehicles and cargo moving along the Lachin Corridor in both directions” and reminding them of their obligations under the Convention, the Court decided, in the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before it, to indicate to the Government of Azerbaijan, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, to take all measures that are within their jurisdiction to ensure safe passage through the “Lachin Corridor” of seriously ill persons in need of medical treatment in Armenia and others who were stranded on the road without shelter or means of subsistence.

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