Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

Statement by the Independent Observer Alliance on the participation of national minorities in the constitutional referendum

March 3, 2020

Activities | Electoral Process | Right to Vote and to Participate in a Referendum | Joint | Announcements | Civilian Oversight and Monitoring

During electoral processes and particularly, in case of referendums, the Republic of Armenia must ensure the opportunity of equal participation for persons who have the right of suffrage.


Article 34 of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE (OSCE since 1994) establishes that representatives of national minorities shall have the opportunity to use their mother tongue with public authorities. 


To avoid misreadings of Copenhagen Document, it should be mentioned that the handbook prepared by OSCE/ODIHR interprets the obligations set by Article 34 as dissemination of information and materials on electoral processes in the areas of residence of national minorities in their languages. The same is recommended by Venice Commission by suggesting that all the information be available both in the official language of a country and in the language of national minorities.


It should also be mentioned that Armenia ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and thus undertook the obligation to secure the Yazidi, Kurdish, Assyrian, Greek and Russian languages.  


The question set before the RA citizens in the frame of constitutional referendum on April 5 should be available to representatives of RA citizen regional minorities in their mother tongue. 


Based on the aforementioned, Independent Observer Alliance finds that

not providing equal participation of national minorities in electoral processes is problematic and cannot be accepted in the Republic of Armenia,
the matter of equal participation of national minorities in the future electoral processes should become a subject of professional and wide public discussions,
mechanisms should be developed to provide ballots in the languages of national minorities without compromising the confidentiality of voting. 


Ahead of the constitutional referendum, as an urgent partial measure, the Independent Observer Alliance recommends the Central Electoral Commission to provide, in accordance with Article 65 (8) of the Electoral Code, availability of the text of the amended articles of Constitution and ballot sample translated into languages of national minorities in  precincts.

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