GENEVA, (AFP) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has signed an accord with authorities in the separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh giving it access to all prisoners for whatever reason, the organization said Friday in a statement.
"The ICRC is pleased with the signing of this accord and hopes it can intensify its dialogue on humanitarian questions with the de facto authorities of Nagorno Karabakh," it said.
The accord will allow Red Cross delegates to speak with prisoners and witnesses, as well as conduct visits as often as it deems necessary in the enclave, which lies inside Azerbaijan but is populated mostly by Armenians. A spokesman for the ICRC, Annick Bouvier, told AFP the agreement would allow the Red Cross to "visit all detainees whatever the motive for their incarceration," whether they are in preventive detention or have already been sentenced.
Previously, the ICRC was only able to visit detainees jailed in connection with the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave.
Nagorno-Karabakh, which declared its independence from Azerbaijan in 1991, holds presidential polls on Sunday. A bloody conflict has since claimed some 30,000 lives and made a million people homeless.