We present passages from “Helsinki Association” 2010 report on human rights situation in Armenia.
The report states one may unequivocally state that human rights and fundamental freedoms are violated in Armenia. In 2010, government of Armenia initiated series of legislative changes, in particular changes were made regarding freedom of speech and in the field of laws regarding the press. Legislative changes were initiated in the law “On conducting meetings, assemblies, rallies and demonstrations”.
Freedom of Speech and Mass Media
In the Republic of Armenia, the right of freedom of speech is set by the Constitution of RA. Article 27 claims that “Everyone shall have the right to freely express his/her opinion. No one shall be forced to recede or change his/her opinion. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression including freedom to search for, receive and impart information and ideas by any means of information regardless of the state frontiers. Freedom of mass media and other means of mass information shall be guaranteed. The state shall guarantee the existence and activities of an independent and public radio and television service offering a variety of informational, cultural and entertaining programs”.
In 2010, series of changes were implied regarding the law of freedom of speech. According to experts, the changes had both positive and negative sides. In particular, 164th article has set responsibility in case if one interferes into the work of a journalist.
Human rights defenders
The law of RA on “Public organizations” (adopted on December 4, 2001) regulates the legal relations arising while exercising the constitutional right of a person to form public associations in Republic of Armenia and pertains to the formation, activities, re-organization and dissolution of public organizations.
The legislation is not anticipating any restrictions for forming an NGO that would address human rights, if the aims of the last are not contradicting to the Constitution of RA and to the laws regulating this area.
In 2009, Armenian authorities planned to make changes to the law on “NGOs”. On April 15th 2010, following NGO requests, the Ministry of Justice sent them a draft law. According to NGO representatives, however, nothing had been changed and expressed concern that the aim of intended changes was to gain control over NGO activities. The establishment of the Department of Control Over Illegal Activities of Non-Commercial Organisations by the Armenian government on 5th August 2010 was also linked to assuming control over NGO activities.
According to the Constitution (article 6), the international treaties are a constituent part of the legal system of the Republic of Armenia and they shall prevail. Thus, the freedoms guaranteed by the “Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” (article 11), “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” (articles 21; 22) cannot be restricted by the internal legislation of RA.
The third article of the Constitution of RA: “The human being, his/her dignity and the fundamental human rights and freedoms are an ultimate value. The state shall ensure the protection of fundamental human and civil rights in conformity with the principles and norms of the international law. The state shall be limited by fundamental human and civil rights as a directly applicable right.”
The second part of the article 43 of the Constitution states that limitations on fundamental human and civil rights and freedoms may not exceed the scope of the international commitments of the Republic of Armenia.
According to the report, the rights of LGBT community /Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/ are still violated. Despite the representatives of LGBT community are periodically subjected to violence, they do not file any complaint in order to avoid publicity, mockery from the society and double violations from the side of law enforcement bodies.
The full version of the report is available in Helsinki Association’s website