On February 22, Amnesty International human rights organization published its annual report on the human rights situation in 159 countries around the world. The report entitled “The State of the World’s Human Rights 2017/18” addresses Armenia as well.
The section of the report dealing with Armenia first addresses the 2017 parliamentary elections, referring to the credible data reported to the OSCE observation mission on the election fraud in favor of the ruling party (election bribes, pressure exerted on the private and public sector employees). Further, the report also addresses some of the key issues with human rights in Armenia.
The report points out limited accountability for the violence used by law enforcement bodies against largely peaceful protestors in July 2016. Though numerous protestors faced criminal charges for allegedly violating public order and other offences, police officials remained unpunished.
According to the report, during the trial of individuals arrested for occupying a police station in July 2016, the law enforcement bodies used unnecessary violence not only against defendants, but also against their defense lawyers. In particular, Arayik Papikyan, Mushegh Shushanyan, Nina Papikyants and other defense lawyers reported that the detention facility’s administration prevented them from visiting the accused men and holding confidential meetings with them, and unlawfully confiscated and destroyed some of the case-related materials.
The report also mentions the case of June 28, 2017, when five defendants from “Sasna Tsrer” group were beaten in the court basement (which left them with bruises and other signs of violence). According to the report, at the end of the year, investigations were ongoing into the allegations of the beatings and the harassment of the lawyers.
Human rights defenders
In January 2017, court hearings commenced in the case against Marina Poghosyan, director of Veles NGO, a human rights organization. Marina Poghosyan is known for her fight against government corruption, shadow economy, fraud and usury. She has been charged with extortion.
Freedom of expression
The report also addresses isolated incidents of violence against journalists during parliamentary elections in April and Yerevan city council elections in May. For instance, a reference is made to the case of two journalists who were attacked in Yerevan’s Kond neighborhood while investigating allegations of vote-buying at the local Republican Party’s campaign office.
The report also indicates absence of data on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by minority groups.
“Union of Informed Citizens”