Official Report by Republic of Armenia Ombudsman (Human Rights Defender)

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.

Constitution of the RA
(Article 3)

1. Even from the pre-electoral campaign period, the public activities of different political bodies resulted in the atmosphere of intolerance in our society. Unfortunately the calls for tolerance, made both by competent international organizations and by the Human Rights Defender  were  ignored. Even more, the atmosphere of intolerance turned into mutual hatred after the tragic events on the March 1.  
2. The events of March 1 started from the forced dispersal of the demonstrators in the Azatutyun square early in the morning. It was officially announced that there was an accumulation of  weapons in the place of demonstration, and Police officers simply tried to inspect the area but faced tough resistance. 

The Human Rights Defender’s position is that the authorities should clarify some issues.  Notably, who, when and under what circumstances there was made a decision to disperse peaceful demonstration by using force early in the morning of March 1, whether the demonstrators were presented an official warning of corresponding searching and whether the participants refused or resisted, and whether the use of force was adequate to the situation.  
 
The aforementioned issues are conditioned by the announcement of the demonstrators  that early in the morning without any warning, they were attacked and severely beaten. It is difficult for us to reveal the truth but there is an unanswered question.   What was the reason that the police imposed restrictions on     the activities of journalists, for us to get full impartial information. The fact of such  prevention  was officially confirmed by  “Erkir  media” and “ALM” television broadcasters. 
3. People near the French Embassy are a part of our society, they are not burglars or hooligans. They were convinced that they were citizens of Republic of Armenia who illegally suffered violence from law enforcement   bodies.  
The Police suggested  to make a procession  and hold a demonstration near Matenadaran. What was the reason that the people who could lead the demonstrators, did not do that, but at the last moment announced that the demonstrators did not obey them. Еventually what was the reason that demonstrators disagreed with both  law enforcement bodies and with the representatives of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s electoral headquarter. Perhaps, the reason was the early morning events? Perhaps so many wounded and 8 dead persons were the result of this disagreement? The Defender deeply condoles with the relatives of the victims.  
4.  Current activities of some mass media, mainly TV broadcasters directed to the increase of the tension in atmosphere is at least doubtful. Particularly, it is continuously broadcasted the announcements of high level officials stating to punish or call to trial only those who participated in March 1 demonstrations. 
Why the issue of possible illegal actions and corresponding responsibilities of  law enforcement bodies are not discussed.  
        
5. The presidential decree of 01.03.2008 introducing a state of emergency imposes restrictions on civil and constitutional rights.  Thus, according to  subpoint 4 of the 4th point of the decree, mass media reports on domestic political matters may include only official information. Whereas, according to the information, received by the Defender, the activities of «A1plus», «Lragir» informational internet portals have been suspended.     In connection with it, the head of the National Security told the Defender that the reason for such extreme measures is that the internet providers of the corresponding sites are located abroad. According to the head of the National Security  the latter were warned about the restrictions  prescribed by the decree, but they refused to stand to them justifying that they act within the legislation of their own state.  
         
The  subpoint 3 of point 4 of the aforementioned presidential decree provides that law enforcing bodies have the right to restrict the free movement of people, means of transport and execute searching. The complaints received by the Defender indicate that in a result of broad interpretation of the mentioned subpoint the right of people to enter Yerevan city is inadequately eliminated.  
 Besides, the defender receives complaints concerning mass arrestments which is аcompanied by, according to applicants, violations of criminal procedural norms.  As for this question the Defender had a telephone conversation with the RA Prosecutor-General, who eagerly offered to present the list of all arrested people to the office of the Defender. 
Nevertheless, some representatives of law enforcing bodies tried to prevent the Defender from executing his powers. Such case happened at the RA Police Yerevan department Qanaqer-Zeytun police station.
6.We think that the present situation is conditioned by rough governing system, over-centralization of power,  artificial essence of system of checks and balances, social and economic polarization, combination of business and authorities,  absence of public control over authorities, deficiency of civil liberties. So it is the situation which has been continuously mentioned by me as the Human Rights Defender of RA, that we have systematic problems in the sphere of the protection of human rights in Republic of Armenia. All these results in the fact, that one big part of our society feels apart from the administration, has a total distrust towards public institutes, electoral mechanisms, justice and mass media. 
A certain part of political bodies tried to make use of the situation for its narrow political interests following not the way of dialogue, but the one of confrontation. Of course, the authorities have their part of responsibility in the current situation.  
There are two ways to solve the situation: illegal, that is leading to deadlock and legal. The deadlock would be the situation when  the political arena becomes deserted and a total feeling of fear would be formed. The other way must be based on  real democratic mechanisms, human rights must be considered  as a highest value or a headstone, and the way of dialogue and cooperation must be followed up.   
It is reassuring that this way is preferred by the newly elected president. It shows that the coming government tries to follow the legal way. It is characteristic that a proposal of cooperation is made by a  political leader, whose political party, forms the majority in the Parliament.   
I’m sure that even in this situation the possibility of dialogue and political way of peaceful solution of the existing disagreements is not exhausted.

Via Blogian

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