As it is known, early in the morning today, on December 21, 2020, the police blocked the Yerevan-Meghri (M2) highway on the outskirts of Goris, keeping it closed for at least 6 hours.
So far, the police have not provided any explanation for the reasons and legal grounds for the closure of the interstate highway. It is clear, however, that the road was closed to prevent citizens from approaching the Syunik Gates (where they intended to block Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s entry into Syunik).
This, however, can in no way be considered as a legitimate reason for the police to block traffic on an interstate highway for hours. Moreover, such an action creates an obstacle to execute the right of citizens to hold peaceful assembly. It is obvious that the closure of the interstate road by the police in order to prevent the illegal actions of some citizens can be considered neither lawful nor proportionate.
It should be noted that citizens (including those not related to the intended demonstration) whose right to travel was restricted were not informed of the reasons and grounds for the restriction by the police on duty.
It is necessary to show respect to the citizens for execution of their rights, taking into account that especially in Syunik region they have been deprived of their rights for many years due to various repressions applied by the previous authorities.
In view of the above mentioned, we hereby state that the police violated:
- The right to free movement guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia (Article 40) and the right to receive information (Article 51), the freedom of assembly (Article 44);
- Freedom of assembly guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Article 11) and Freedom of movement (Article 2 of Protocol No. 4);
- Guarantees of human immunity defined by Article 5 of the RA Law on Police and the requirement to immediately inform about the grounds and reasons for the restriction of the right defined by Article 22
The undersigned non-governmental organizations strongly condemn the organized violation of human rights by the police enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia and assumed international commitments, demand that the police act exclusively in compliance with the law, ensuring the execution of human rights, especially during mass events.
At the same time, we call on all citizens to hold rallies exclusively in a peaceful manner and to refrain from violence and calls for violence.
Union of Informed Citizens
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor office
Asparez Journalists’ Club