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European commissioner disappointed with Armenia’s human rights record

14 October 2014 [10:23] - TODAY.AZ


By Sara Rajabova

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks said the failure of Armenian government to deal appropriately with the case of March 1 protests is a serious problem for justice in the country.

Muiznieks expressed disappointment with the process of the investigation into the case of March 1, when 10 people were killed in post-election protests in 2008, Armenian media reported.

"I am disappointed with lack of results: I discussed the case on the March 1 events with the prosecutors. They told me that the investigation is still ongoing," he said.

During the March 1, 2008, Armenian police used excessive force in clashes with protesters in Yerevan that led to the killing of at least 10 protesters. Besides, the Armenian authorities have arrested, prosecuted, and convicted dozens of opposition members, sometimes in flawed and politically motivated trials, in connection with the protests. This comes as they have not yet taken any measures against the representatives of the law enforcement agencies for excessive use of force.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said during a meeting with Muiznieks that the reforms in the direction of democracy, human rights and strengthening of the rule of law have been going on smoothly. However, the reports by the international organizations refute the statements by the Armenian president.

Human Rights Watch said in its submission on Armenia issued in July 2014 that Armenia's human rights record has remained problematic since its UPR in 2010, leaving many of the accepted recommendations unfulfilled, and casting some doubts on the government's willingness to abide by its commitments.

The report said ill-treatments in police custody persist. "The authorities do not adequately investigate a troubling number of noncombat deaths in the military. There have been no effective investigations into violent attacks against peaceful protesters by unidentified assailants. Broadcast media suffer from lack of pluralism, and instances of violence and harassment against journalists and media workers continue to occur with impunity. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by both state and non-state actors are serious problems. Bureaucratic restrictions prevent people with terminal illnesses from accessing adequate pain medications in violation of their human rights," the Human Rights Watch said.

During the meeting with Muiznieks, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said Armenia has ratified all the major UN documents on human rights and "implement appropriated reforms in this direction."

This comes as the facts and international organizations say the situation in this sphere in Armenia remains grave.

Specially, the security forces in Armenia were depicted as the main violator of human rights, according to the reports.

The Socioscope Societal Research and Consultancy Center revealed that Armenian police carried out the harshest violation of the nation's human rights. The investigators, detectives and policemen are responsible for 25.9 percent of the entire violation cases, the media reports said.

The U.S. State Department said in its 2013 report on human rights that though the government of Armenia took some steps to punish officials in the security forces who committed abuses, some members of the security forces continued to violate human rights with impunity under the direction of civilian leadership.

The report showed the fact that Armenian authorities has not yet held anyone accountable for the 10 deaths that occurred following post-election clashes in 2008. The Armenian police allegedly continue to employ torture to obtain confessions and reportedly beat citizens during arrest and interrogation, according to the report. It also said the authorities continued to arrest and detain criminal suspects without reasonable suspicion and to detain individuals arbitrarily.

The continuous violation of human rights has led to the sharp rise of the criminal impunity in Armenia. Such a situation, in turn, is endangering the government and could lead to a political crisis in the country.

Growing dissatisfaction with the current ruling regime makes the discontented people more determined to protest against the ineffective and corrupted government and demand the resignation of President Sargsyan.


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