At the Media Center initiated online TV debate, in cooperation with A1+, Artur Sakunts, chairman at HCA Vanadzor, said the UN Universal Periodic Review is an operating tool which summarizes all the issues in human rights and democracy fields.
“The legislation has been amended but there seems to be no will to efficiently investigate violations of human rights. Some structures (Investigative Committee) are established in Armenia but the content remains the same. Political authorities do not display political will to make life-changing shifts,” Sakunts said.
Armenia’s human rights record was examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the second time on 22 January 2015. Armenia was one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its 21st session. Armenia’s first UPR review took place in 2010. Concurrently, 26 non-governmental organizations presented their alternative record on human rights.
“The UN mechanism is a soft pressure tool lacking compulsory methods against the government. Thus, it is a good chance to fix possible problems every 4.5 year,” said Arman Danielyan, head of the Civil Society Institute.
Torture cases in Armenia have always been voiced as an urgent problem by other countries, he noted.
“In 2010 the Government promised to amend the law since the report over the Armenian Criminal Code does not correspond to the torture definition specified by the UN. No legislative changes have been undertaken for five years, as we see but the authorities continue to promise to,” said Danielyan.
The civil society representatives pointed out several unsolved problems in the field of human rights in Armenia.
“The mechanism of appointing judges by the President is not changed, with the norms of disciplinary sanctions against judges remaining the same. Legislative and legal improvements do not lead to significant changes because there is no will to enact them,” said Haykuhi Harutyunyan, head of the Protection of Rights without Borders NGO.
Armenia has seen and achieved a progress in human rights protection, Nellie Manandyan, deputy head of the Legal Department at the RA Police, believes.
“The UN UPR is a serious and efficient tool from a human rights perspective, and if compared we can state that Armenia has made a considerable improvement based on the proposals by other states over last years,” Manandyan said.
Hovhannes Madoyan, head of the Real World, Real People NGO, commented Armenia, actually, is open to new proposals and has accepted nearly 95 percent of proposals at the previous UN record discussion but what matters is whether all these proposals are addressed.
“For example, Armenia considers domestic violence an issue but it lacks a tool to prevent domestic violence. The law is drafted but not adopted,” Madoyan added.
To conclude, the civil society representatives said the UN is the only platform where issues regarding human rights protection are displayed to the fullest and where the role of civil society institutions is highly valued.