The Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, Vanadzor human rights organization continues reporting its monitoring over incidents of deaths in the armed forces of Armenia.
Before the military escalation on the border of Tavush in the month of July, HCAV reports that in the first 6 months of 2020, 31 cases of deaths were recorded in the armed forces, of which 10 are reported to be a result of health issues, 8 are suicides or being impelled to suicide, 6 are accidents (3 snow slide, 1 case of car falling over into the gorge, 1 fire in the vehicle, 1 tractor falling over), 2 cases of murder, 3 cases of car accidents, 1 case of violation of ceasefire, and 1 accident of stepping on a landmine.
In comparison to the same period of 2019, the number of deaths in the armed forces has increased by 1.
HCAV takes note that only 17 of the cases were officially reported, while information regarding the rest of 14 cases was obtained through information requests, including about 2 cases of suicide. The official justification has been that these cases were not related to duty service.
The number of reported suicides in 2020 has increased by 4 making it double the number of cases of the same period last year, the number of accidents – by 2, so has the number of deaths due to health issues.
In its quarterly 2020 report, HCAV expressed concern over the continuous trend of suicides and murders in the armed forces, which indicates of the ineffectiveness of measures aimed at preventing and eradicating reasons that give reason such cases.
The number of accidents has also increased compared to the same period of last year. 1 of the accidents that was related to a soldier falling off into a gorge remained unclarified as to whether it was during his duty or outside duty. The Prosecutor’s office only responded that the file over this case’s investigation has been closed due to lack of evidences of crime. The Ministry of Defense evaluates two other cases of accidents as unrelated to military service, with one related to a fire caught in the car from which the military serviceman did not succeed to escape, and a serviceman driving a tractor that fell into the gorge.
HCAV is concerned that deaths resulted by accidents continue to rise in the armed forces. This gives reason to believe that either soldiers are not properly instructed over safety measures, or they simply do not follow them.
The semi-annual report also gives statistics of what kind of military personnel died in the first half of 2020. Around half (14) of them were contract soldiers, 9 were mandatory conscripts, 7 were lieutenants , 1 was a sub-lieutenant.