Protection of Human Rights in Armenia
“Of course, the judicial system is catastrophic, but I would put the Police in the first place this year. When Vova Gasparyan took the position, he acted as Messiah in front of the people, whereas in reality we were the witnesses of all that violent incidents”, Janna Alexanyan, head of the “Journalists for Human Rights” NGO, thinks the situation of human rights in 2013 was.

The organization is mostly focused on soldiers’ rights. Janna Alexanyan mentioned that ordinary people are accused for deaths in the army rather than the officials. Most of those people are from families who live in very bad conditions. As for the officials, after such cases, they are usually reassigned to other units.

“The way the investigation service does its work is awful. Witnesses are kept imprisoned for months in the Military Police.  When a witness announces about the pressure s/he has experienced in the court, the prosecutor may threaten him/her right there. There are such cases. The court is never responding”, complains Alexanyan.

Avetik Ishkhanyan, head of Helsinki Committee of Armenia, said that according to the 2013’s amendments in the law on “Alternative Service”, there are no prisoners of conscience in Armenia, a fact that can be considered as an achievement for the last year.

According to Avetik Ishkhanyan, the state of human rights does not change in Armenia. The problem is that there is no separation of powers in the country. “Courts are the continuations of the executive power and are subordinated to it. We can’t expect impartiality from the court, because actually there is no court. It is impossible to speak about human rights while having this kind of court”, Ishkhanyan adds. 

Arthur Sakunts, the head of Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly office in Vanadzor, thinks that the brightest events of 2013 were the justification of wrongly accused for the Mataghis’ case who had been struggling for over 9 years, and the citizen activism in different situations.

Sakunts thinks there has never been a kind of ignorance on Armenian citizens, compared to what is being practiced by the administration of President Serj Sargsyan. “Sargsyan and judicial system concept can be compatible as, for example, fire with water or the death with the life”, says Sakunc and brings an example, “The termination of Liska’s and his son’s criminal prosecution and their release from custody indicates how the Power refers to the citizens”. 

According to lawyers, this year Armenia has more than 14 political prisoners, among them Shant Harutyunyan and his friends.

According to the expert of NA Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs Martin Tadevosyan mostly Criminal code and Criminal procedure are violated.

Tadevosyan informs that their commission has received 210 applications in 2013. “During the whole year only 27 people have applied. They are filling in the applications, the procedures begin, however we have no right to do anything”, Tadevosyan says.

During the discussion, the head of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression Ashot Melikyan said that because of the Presidential and City Council elections the year had been very tense for the journalists and the media.

“During the elections there is always a pressure in our political atmosphere and the attacks on journalists and media outlets are become usual”, Melikyan said. He informed that the attacks on journalists during the 9 months of 2013 have increased (7 cases) as  compared with that of 2012 (4 cases).

In 2013, during 9 months, there were 49 cases of pressure on journalists, while in 2012 there were 37 cases.

On December 19, a discussion about the Protection of Human Rights in Armenia was held at the Media Center.  The participants of the discussion were: expert of NA Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs Martin Tadevosyan, President of  Helsinki Committee in Armenia Avetik Ishkhanyan,  Head of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office Arthur Sakunts, Head of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression Ashot Melikyan and Head of Journalists for Human Rights NGO Janna Alexanyan.

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