Arthur Sakunts, Head of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office, Haykuhi Harutyunyan, Head of “Defense of rights without borders” NGO, Avetik Ishkhanyan, Chairman of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia, Andranik Hakobyan, Deputy Head of Department for Investigation of Especially Important Cases of the Prosecutor General's Office of the Republic of Armenia, and Vladimir Hovhannisyan, Deputy Head of Staff of Human Rights Defender of Armenia.
Artur Sakunts says that the police have already filed a criminal case, and he is recognized as a victim in the framework of this case.
“The decision about filing a criminal case was made on June 12 and the decision about recognizing as a victim was made on June 13. We submitted a report to RA Prosecutor’s Office last Monday,” Sakunts informed.
He added that the filing of the criminal case on the fact of threat 10 days later is due to the work of the Postal Service.
“The letter sent to RA Prosecutor’s Office reached from Vanadzor to Yerevan for 4 days,” the human rights defender said.
Andranik Hakobyan said that the laws enforcement system worked within the law and after publishing the article, the preparation of materials started.
“For filing a criminal case, it was necessary to have the victim’s, that is Sakunts’s position about filing a case as this article requires the presence of complaint,” Hakobyan said.
Vladimir Hovhannisyan expressed his concern and underlined that this case would be at the core of Ombudsman’s Office attention.
“The position of the Ombudsman and the Staff is published in the press where such cases are strictly criticized. A letter was addressed to law enforcement authorities in order to obtain as much information as possible in the course of our work,” Hovhannisyan said.
Avetik Ishkhanyan considered the problem in a broader context, addressing the public perception of threats. “Unfortunately, we still did not become a civilized country and we live with glossaries, which is very negative, it is an aggressive society. We have heard of cases when not only human rights defenders were threatened but also journalists, such as "I will pull out your head". But there were no consequences.”
Ishkhanyan added that he did not believe in the law enforcement bodies as there are not only cases of threats without any response but there are cases when the threats were and no one had been punished.
“It is not excluded that the man who threatened Sakunts acts by himself but I am convinced that he is a representative of a group acting under the auspices of the government. Making such a threat is a good way to get a high position,” Ishkhanyan said.
He also believes that even if the sinner is found, the punishment will be formal.
Haykuhi Harutyunyan noted that such phenomena are the result of tolerance that exists in Armenia for a long time.
“Such a person who threatens is convinced that he will not be punished. For example, we have had a discussion about the July events recently after which statements like human rights defenders should be abolished appeared on social media. The environment is very contributive,” Haykuhu Harutyunyan said.
The further actions of the law enforcement bodies will be the indicator if they want to fight against such vicious phenomena.
Andranik Hakobyan informed about the punishment that is expected for the person who threatened Sakunts.
“If the investigation reveals the identity of the person, he or she will be liable to punishment within the limits of Article 137 of the Criminal Code. The statutory period is defined by law - detention for up to two months and imprisonment for maximum of 2 years. There is also a fine comprising 50-150-fold minimum wage,” Hakobyan said.
Sakunts drew attention to the wording of the threat.
“They call me an Azerbaijani agent. This is said because of the fact that I raise the issues of human rights violations in RA armed forces. They call me Vahan Martirosyan….that is a person who is engaged in human rights defense is labeled. This is a label formed on the basis of public perception. It has been for years as a result of the government’s propaganda,” Sakunts said.
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