The Authorities Will Try to Silence the Election Observers. Human Rights Defenders
20.10.2016
12:00
The adoption of the amendments to the Electoral Code and the related laws at the National Assembly on October 20, that specifically include the provision about "false denunciation", attains political goals and is cast against the free activity of observers and the media. Avetik Ishkhanyan, Chairman of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia, said during the discussion at Media Center on October 20.

The parliamentary factions of the ruling and opposition parties (with the exception of "Heritage" Party) came to a compromise on the publication of lists of voters. However, the government added another provision in the package of legal amendments, under which a citizen, making a report about a voting on behalf of another person, can be subjected to criminal liability if it does not correspond to reality. At the same time, according to the amendments, if a citizen makes a report about the cases of double voting or voting instead of anyone else after the publication of the voter lists and the electoral commission does not submit evidence denying the cases of fraud within 48 hours, this statement is considered true with the presumption of the validity.

On the other hand, if the applicant's statement is untrue and false data were provided intentionally, the citizen will be subjected to 2 years in prison, but if a person made the false statement inaccurately, a fine of up to 200-800 times of the minimum wage is anticipated.

According to Ishkhanyan, agreeing to publish the lists of voters, the authorities established such a legal mechanism that people would refuse to submit appeals. “The government expects the appeals to be much fewer as people will not complain, escaping from the criminal responsibility. It is not clear if this is the way the authorities want to increase the public trust towards the elections,” Ishkahnyan said and added that if  a case was filed based on the provision of "false denunciation", they would consider it a political persecution. “They shut our months in that way in order we do not speak about violations,” the speaker said, describing it as a veiled intimidation, especially in relation to observing groups.

At the same time based on the legislative amendments, in addition to the publication of the lists of voters, it is proposed to install cameras in all two thousand polling stations of Armenia, to broadcast the voting and counting process live.

Artur Sakunts, Chairman of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office, thinks that the agreement between governmental and non-governmental forces over the legislative amendments is entirely addressed against observers. "I see a trend here that the whole mood of these amendments is addressed to increasing the pressure on the observation mission, through restrictions," he said, adding that there were cases when the citizen found out that someone had already voted instead of him/her, but the investigation showed that the person just confused and the appeal was cancelled. "If a citizen cancels his/her appeal, I, the one who made a report, will be exposed to criminal liability for false denunciation," he said.

At the same time, human rights defenders did not exclude that there is a political trade behind the agreement of the ruling and opposition political forces over these amendments. "The whole trade is about grabbing seats in the future National Assembly. I see the adoption of this law in this context. If the forty percent of the National Assembly comprised principled opposition, this provision would not only be adopted, but the government would not dare to bring this article, even if they had the majority,"Avetik Ishkhanyan said.

Both speakers, whose organizations conduct observation missions during elections, said that even if this legislative provision was adopted, they would continue to make reports regarding the violations during the elections.

Earlier human rights defenders and media organizations made a statement against this provision. They required removing this provision from the Criminal Code, as it would enable to apply the "whole arsenal of election frauds" without any punishment.  

Arshaluys Mghdesyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to arshaluismghdesyan@pjc.am.

Videos
Print Friendly and PDF
More Press Releases
“Access Right to Health Care in Armenia: Current Challenges, Obstacles and Ways of Overcoming”
12.12.2017
11:00
Obstacles for universal access to health care in Armenia are first of all financial.
Representatives of the civil society stated this during the press conference dedicated to Universal Health Coverage Day at Media Center on December 12.
“Press Conference of Eiji Taguchi, Ambassador of Japan, at Media Center”
11.12.2017
11:00
During the press conference at Media Center on December 11, Eiji Taguchi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary H.E., congratulated the Republic of for signing the comprehensive and enhanced agreement with the European Union on November 24, 2017.
“Armenia's Energy Sector Issues: Parallels with Georgia”
08.12.2017
13:00
One of the most pressing issues in the Armenian energy system is the non-transparent and illogical formation of the gas price for the consumer. Officially, Russia sells gas to Armenia at $ 150 per 1,000 cubic meters but the final consumer pays almost twice more - $ 290.
“29 years after Spitak Earthquake: Seismic Safety Issues and Challenges in Armenia”
07.12.2017
11:00
The human and material losses of Spitak earthquake on December 7, 1988 were catastrophic. 21 towns and districts, 342 villages were damaged, 17% of the country's housing stock was destroyed.
“Constitutional Amendments of 2015: Consequences and Impact on Socio-Political Life”
06.12.2017
12:00
On December 6, 2015, a referendum on constitutional amendments was held in Armenia. The draft Constitution proposed to move from the semi-presidential system to the parliamentary system.
Follow us on social networks
Registration of events
Services
Videos
Press Releases
Armenia-Turkey Events