Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg has issued a press release on his recent visit to Armenia, which some opposition politicians claimed was an indication of increased pressure on official Yerevan to release jailed oppositionists. The release seems to pull ground away right from under the feet of such claims…
Issues related to the events of March 2008, freedom of expression and of the media, and human rights in the army were the main themes of Hammarberg’s 18 to 21 January, 2011 visit.
“The effects of the tragic events of March 2008 can still be felt in Armenian society,” the Commissioner has said in the release adding, that he “has recommended concrete measures” to address the needs of the families of the victims.
Failing to name the jailed oppositional ‘political prisoners,’ even though that’s the only way Levon Ter-Petrossian led Armenian National Congress (HAK) insists on calling them, Hammarberg has only so much to say about them “HAK indicated to the Commissioner that nine persons affiliated with them remain imprisoned, most of them in connection with the events of March 2008. The Commissioner discussed this issue with the Armenian authorities.”
CoE Human Rights Chief has also discussed the case of A1+ television, which had been the subject of a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights where the court had found a violation of the right of freedom of expression.
During a recent competition for a broadcasting license, the bid of A1+ was once again rejected; the reasoning given in the decision of the National Commission on Radio and Television was that the documentation which had been submitted by A1+ contained fraudulent documents.
“The Commissioner stressed the importance of ensuring that the media environment in Armenia is sufficiently diverse and pluralistic. He noted the work to amend the Law on Television and Radio and trusts that the question of the independence and pluralistic membership of the regulatory authorities will be addressed,” Hammarberg has said in the press release. (That’s a classic way of washing his hands off this issue. You see, he TRUSTS!)
I was frankly really skeptical seeing how Hammarberg’s visit and every move made news headlines all last week and was thinking, maybe the opposition knows something? The formulations above come to prove, that my skepticism was rather justified. However, according to the press release, “A report will be published in the coming months.” Sure, before making final judgement, I can wait a couple of months and see if there’s something vastly different and showing ‘increased pressure’ on Armenian authorities. I don’t see any so far…
Full press release is available here.