Lawyers urge Artsakh residents to preserve documents and other evidence of their property
What is the status of the people of Artsakh forced to leave the settlements that, according to the joint statement signed by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, and the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on November 10, 2020, will be handed over to the Republic of Azerbaijan?

What documents should the people of Artsakh have in order to present as evidence in the case of lawsuits for the restoration of private or cultural rights?

During the discussion organized by the Media Center of the Public Journalism Club NGO, Anna Astvatsaturyan-Turcotte, a lawyer and defender of the Armenians of Artsakh, says that these days people have mostly living problems, they do not know what would happen the next day, let alone think about the trial. However, according to the lawyer, the collection of documents is very important for further litigation. Anna herself is a refugee, her family somehow managed to escape the massacres of Armenians in Baku decades ago.    

Lawyer Meline Mailyan called on all citizens moving from Artsakh to take with them any document: passport, birth certificate, property ownership certificates. “Maybe they have landed in a place very far from their place of residence, or they have other private property, such as real estate, cars, or items of cultural value. The collection of such documents is a must.”

Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan, a lawyer for the American law firm Nixon Peabody, added that even if people do not have time to obtain the documents, there is no need to panic. She called for the preservation of all evidence of living in the area, including photographs, videos, press publications, and other evidence. “If you have photos of your home on your phone where you lived, keep the pictures in several places so that the photos do not get lost. Similarly, if articles are published in newspapers about families living in the area, what they have, they should be found and kept." According to the lawyer, these are not documents but can be used as evidence.

Anna Astvatsaturyan -Turcotte mentions that she has presented the issues of Artsakh on different platforms. According to her, the information on refugees in the 90s was not fully collected and preserved. Therefore, according to the lawyer, the Armenian government should not make the same mistake.  

Anna Astvatsaturyan -Turcotte notes that when she raised these issues on social media, many people responded, including YSU lecturers, scientists, ombudsmen of Artsakh Artak Beglaryan, and Arman Tatoyan, Ombudsman of the Republic of Armenia.

She says NGOs should also be involved in gathering information. According to her, today everyone is in shock but they should be able to organize and show the right approach to these issues. The lawyer stresses that the biggest burden is on the government, it should be able to collect all that information and classify and preserve it properly.

Regarding the issue of financial compensation, Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan, who deals with the compensation of the property of Jewish citizens affected by the Holocaust in American courts, said that the lawsuits can take a long time. “For example, in the case of the Holocaust, the lawsuit started 40 years later; only last year the lawsuit was closed but it should not be limited to any time. Nobody knows what changes will take place in the future, both in Artsakh and in international instances. All documents and evidence must be preserved, as changes are possible to take place that would create favorable conditions for the progress and success of such cases.”

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