Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

Statement Regarding Police Actions on May 27

May 28, 2024

Rights | Joint | Announcements | Right to Freedom of Assembly and Association | Publications

On May 27, 2024, during the protests, the actions of the RA police aimed at maintaining public order were accompanied by the mass detention of participants, violence against some participants, and cases of unlawful use of measures. Violence was also used against a member of the RA National Assembly near the ARF party office.

 

The specific reasons, objectives, and considerations related to maintaining public order that prompted the officers from the police special unit to appear near the party office remain unclear. However, it is clear that the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Armenia is obliged to explain and justify the presence and actions of the large number of police officers there.

 

As previously noted, the habitual conduct of law enforcement officers remains unchanged: they continue to engage in unlawful and disproportionate use of force, illegal detentions, and violations of the right to liberty during the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly. The use of such methods by the police is the result of a longstanding policy of impunity within the system, leading to the use of violent force becoming the main tool of the police.

 

The rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are recognized as fundamental human rights. Every individual is entitled to organize and participate in peaceful assemblies within the confines of the law, which are essential elements of democracy. Citizens have the right to peacefully express their views without fear of police violence. In response to violations of public order or improper or provocative actions by protesters, law enforcement officers are mandated to act strictly within the legal framework. The purpose of this measure is to remove particular individuals from the assembly and ensure the gathering proceeds peacefully. Improper behavior by protesters cannot in any way justify the unlawful actions of police officers.

 

We unequivocally condemn all instances and manifestations of violence by law enforcement agencies. We demand that the personnel of Armenia's law enforcement bodies act strictly within the bounds of the law, with respect for human rights, and in accordance with the principles of maintaining public order in a democratic state. Reaffirming our previous calls for radical reforms within the police system, we demand 

 

  • From the RA Prosecutor General's Office and the RA Investigative Committee: Conduct an independent and effective investigation into each apparent case of human rights violation, degrading treatment, torture, and ill-treatment, and hold the police officers who committed such violations accountable. It is essential to ensure the transparency of the investigation and to properly inform the public about the steps being taken to eliminate the perception of impunity in society.
  • From the RA Ministry of Internal Affairs: Respect the rights of peaceful protesters, refrain from violence, disproportionate use of force, and other actions that degrade their dignity, and ensure the conduct of any peaceful assembly. The Ministry is obliged to immediately remove from the police ranks those officers who do not meet these standards.

 

 

In conditions of public and political confrontation, the only way to prevent further tensions is the strict adherence to the principles of the rule of law and equal accountability before the law for all. Actions that violate human rights and exacerbate tensions or propagate hate speech must be avoided.

 

Having a police force that meets the standards of a democratic state remains a top priority on the agenda.

 

May 28, 2024

Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office
Transparency International Anticorruption Center
Protection of Rights without Borders NGO
Law Development and Protection Foundation
Democracy Development Foundation

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