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September 23, 2021

Schiff Amendment Demanding Release of Armenian Prisoners of War Passes in National Defense Funding Legislation

Today, an amendment championed by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Vice-Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus passed the House as part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. The measure demands that Azerbaijan release all Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians still detained in the aftermath of the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“It is unconscionable that as we approach the one-year anniversary of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan continues to illegally detain Armenian servicemembers and captured civilians – a reality made even more horrific by ongoing reports that these prisoners of war are subject to torture in violation of international human rights conventions,” said Schiff. “With this amendment, we are making it absolutely clear to the Aliyev regime that they have the obligation to release these prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and that the Biden administration should take every possible diplomatic action, including through the OSCE Minsk Group, to hold them to account.”

Under the Geneva Conventions and the November 9, 2020 tripartite statement signed by Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan, all parties have an obligation to release prisoners. Armenia has fulfilled this obligation, while the government of Azerbaijan continues to misrepresent the status of POWs in an attempt to justify their continued captivity.

Rep. Schiff and the bipartisan co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues initially introduced the amendment as a resolution earlier this year. It now awaits final passage in the Senate.