Seven prisoners under sentence of death awaited the outcome of their appeals for clemency. A new draft constitution was published for discussion in July, but had not been adopted by the end of the year. Its provisions included establishing the post of a Defender of Human Rights, responsible among other things for ensuring that all laws comply with international standards. Talks continued on resolving the conflict over Karabakh (see Azerbaydzhan entry), with a meeting in September between President Levon Ter-Petrosyan and his Azerbaydzhani counterpart. In June Armenia acceded to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their 1977 Additional Protocols, and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its (First) Optional Protocol. The following month it acceded to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. As a result of the Karabakh conflict several Azerbaydzhani civilians were said to be held hostage in private hands, but with the apparent complicity of the authorities, on Armenian territory. For example, unofficial sources reported that Yolchu Akhmed ogly Gyoyushov and his relative Ramazan Gasym ogly Mamedov were taken hostage by ethnic Armenians while tending cattle in the neighbouring republic of Georgia in September. They were taken across the border to Armenia, where they were said to be held pending an exchange for hostages held in Azerbaydzhan. According to press reports seven men sentenced to death were awaiting execution at the end of the year. This number was believed to include two of the three men sentenced to death in 1990 (see Amnesty International Report 1993). The third, Vagarsh Ovanyan, was said to have been murdered in November by another death-row inmate. The reports stated that no executions had been carried out for four years owing to a lack of facilities. Previously, prisoners had been sent for execution to a neighbouring republic of the former Soviet Union. Amnesty International urged the authorities to investigate all allegations of hostage-taking in Armenia; to take all necessary steps without delay to identify any people who might be so held; to ensure their immediate, safe release; and to bring to account anyone found responsible. In the light of continuing allegations of hostage-taking and deliberate and arbitrary killings by ethnic Armenians and other parties to the conflict over Karabakh in Azerbaydzhan, Amnesty International continued to urge the authorities to exert all influence possible to ensure that international human rights and humanitarian principles were observed by all those associated with the conflict. Amnesty International also urged the government to commute all pending death sentences and to take concrete measures towards total abolition of the death penalty in line with worldwide trends.

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