“National Strategy on Human Rights Protection” Discussion over Gaps and Need for Amendments08:59, January 25, 2013 | News | Freedom of Assembly and Association, Freedom of thought, conscience and religion, Right to Fair Trial, Right to liberty and security | Prevention of Corruption
On January 23 during a discussion held in Yerevan, representatives from a number of civil society organizations voiced about the need for human rights protection in the spheres of juvenile justice, establishment of associations, prohibition of discrimination, corruption impact, freedom of Mass media and fair trial, liquidation of property and etc. They point out that the aforementioned and numerous other rights are not envisioned in the “National Strategy on Human Rights Protection”, around which a public discussion was held today.
The discussion was organized by “Partnership for Open Society” initiative (presented by over 60 civil society organizations) in cooperation with #1 working group of Armenian National Platform for “Eastern Partnership” Civil Society Forum. The discussion event was attended by state officials, ambassadors to Armenia, representatives from international organizations and Armenian National Platform for “Eastern Partnership”.
According to the NGO representatives, “National Strategy on Human Rights Protection” needs amendments regarding human rights in specific spheres.
Siranush Sahakyan from “Protection of Rights without Borders” NGO mentions that there are drawbacks in the field of protection of children’s rights.
“A number of organizations dealing with issues related to children’s’ rights in Armenia will confirm that in this field we have issues regarding juvenile justice, which has not been comprehended and was not anyhow reflected in this document”, notes Sahakyan.
She mentions that although political and civil rights are clearly separated from social-economic and cultural rights, still, the state responsibilities and schedule related specifics are not reflected in the document.
“The document stipulates the right to freedom of assembly; however, it does not include the right to freedom of association. In the list of neglected rights, prohibition of discrimination is of utmost significance, which again is not somehow envisioned”, says Sahakyan.
Avetik Ishkhanyan, chairman of Helsinki Committee of Armenia also points out several issues regarding establishment of associations and specifically refers to religious organizations.
“Today, the right to freedom of association is limited by the current RA law on religious organizations, because one cannot register as a religious organization until he has over 200 members”, states Ishkhanyan and adds that the document notes nothing on it.
He is also concerned over the absence of trends of power distinction in the National Strategy.
“The most essential issue for human rights is the power restriction. The more absolute the power, the more absolutely the human rights are violated. From this viewpoint, I do not see the trends of power distinction in this strategy, the independence of judicial power from the executive one. It would be great to discuss it here”, stressed Ishkhanyan.
All of the representatives from civil society organizations note that the “National Strategy on Human Rights Protection” is actually of great significance and must be amended to be a radical improvement and a challenge to human rights.
“This strategy, unfortunately, does not foresee radical solutions and from the methodological point of view is extremely unsuccessful”, notes Levon Barseghyan, Chairman of “Asparez” Journalists’ Club and points out the issues regarding dependence of Mass Media, specifically, television and radio broadcasting in Armenia.
Sona Ayvazyan, deputy Director of “Transparency International” Anti-corruption Centre touched upon the impact of corruption on human rights was not illustrated in the document either.
“We know that bribery, patronage and embezzlements bring about direct expressions of discrimination and reflect on the right of citizens to education, healthcare, life, right to vote and fair trial, however none of the aforementioned have been referred”, adds Ayvazyan.
Representatives of Ministry of Justice also responded to all the drawbacks and suggestions presented by the NGOs over making amendments to the strategy. They are responsible for the coordination of the action plan emanating from the strategy. They promised that the suggestions will be considered and will be approved “at least at the action plan level”.