“Human rights defender organizations can freely lobby the implementation of the obligations so that the Government will have to address the obligations instead of simply acknowledging them,” said Vincent Ploton, Head of External Relations of the Centre for Civil and Political Rights.
The survey of the situation of human rights is conducted each 4, 5 years in the 193 UN states. On January 22, 2015 the 21st session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group discussed Armenia’s second record. Over 26 Armenian NGOs submitted their alternative record on the national human rights situation.
Armenia decisively rejected only the obligations Azerbaijan proposed out of all the obligations regarding human rights protection that the UN states outlined for Armenia.
Anna Innocenti, International Advocacy Officer at Human Rights House Foundation, said Armenia should first of all ensure the definition of discrimination includes the types of discrimination specified in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, namely race, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
“Besides, Armenia must adopt a domestic violence law. Armenia must officially define that it does not tolerate any homosexuality-based discrimination; a special law on gender equality must be adopted; non-statutory relations, pressure acts and violations must be eliminated in the armed forces and murder cases in the army must be fully and publicly investigated,” said Innocenti.
Artur Sakunts, Chairman at HCA Vanadzor, said, “Unfortunately, the Armenian authorities are reluctant to address the issues. All the obligations are not commitments to the international institutions but the Armenian citizen, first of all.”
Avetik Ishkhanyan, Head of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia, believes the UN UPR is an effective tool for Armenia and Armenian human rights defender organizations to observe substantial progress in the field of human rights.
“Yet, it is a great concern that the provision regarding the right to assembly is not included in the set of obligations. It’s a concern because the law Armenia has now is not enacted, what is decisive here is the political will, in the negative sense of the phrase,” Ishkhanyan added.
Armenia is among the 168 state parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Open Society Foundations Armenia assisted the Armenian civil society organizations in preparing the first and second alternative UPR records and continues to monitor the process.
“On January 22 the obligations specified at the discussion of Armenia’s UN UPR record go in line with the concerns voiced by the Armenian civil society organizations. After acknowledging the obligations a well-developed strategy should be employed to fully implement these responsibilities. The civil society in Armenia must advocate the implementation as there are methods and tools but little time is left. It is the civil society skills and abilities that our organization seeks to develop,” said Larisa Minasyan, Executive Director at the Open Society Foundations – Armenia. Minasyan added a large-scale training session for NGOs is currently held to present an all-embracing monitoring with more potential within the timeframe.
The issues in the human rights protection, coupled with the distrust of the public, have increased so much that, human rights organizations believe, it can be the next major challenge for the Armenian Government, as long as it puts off addressing its obligations.
Lilit Arakelyan, Editor-Coordinator
For more information please contact Lilitarakelyan@pjc.am