Summary: European Court delivers landmark judgment against Azerbaijan in forced displacement case

23rd June 2015: In its judgment in the case of Sargsyan v Azerbaijan, the European Court has found that Azerbaijan violated the property rights of an Armenian refugee who was forced to flee his home during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The claimants were represented by SRT grantee the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) and the Armenian NGO Legal Guide.

Minas Sargsyan fled to Armenia with his family in 1992 following bombing by Azerbaijani forces in the Shahumyan region. He applied to the European Court in 2006 to seek redress for his enforced displacement. The Court found today that the family’s inability to return to their village or to be compensated for the loss of their land and property breached both their property rights and their right to respect for their family life. The Court also found that the State had failed to create a mechanism which would allow the family to have their property rights restored and that there were no effective remedies available. It called on the Azerbaijani government to establish a mechanism which would allow displaced persons to have their rights restored and to obtain compensation.

The Court also delivered a judgment in Chiragov v Armenia, a parallel case concerning Azerbaijani refugees who were displaced during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It found that Armenia had violated the same Articles of the European Convention with respect to the nine applicants in the case.

Professor Philip Leach, EHRAC’s Director, said, “Over a million people, both Armenian and Azerbaijani, have been displaced by the conflict, and these judgments are significant in establishing that the two governments must take action to secure the rights of internally displaced people and refugees. After 27 years of conflict, the Court is sending a resounding message that it’s time for the hostile rhetoric to stop and for the rights of the civilian victims of the conflict to be actively upheld.”

Full press release from EHRAC website:

Return to grantee stories