Armenian Official Rejects CoE Rally Law Remarks as “Unacceptable”


22 Apr 04


The draft law “On conducting gatherings, rallies, marches and
demonstrations” is a far cry from European standards and does not
conform to Point 2 of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human
Rights, Natalya Vutova, special representative of the PACE
(Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) secretary-general,
said presenting the opinion of experts of the Venice Commission during
the discussion of the draft law today.

The Venice Commission’s final assessment will be ready by the end of
June, she said. The experts of the commission studied the draft law
both before some changes were made to it and after.

For now, it can be said that the amendments are structural in nature
and by and large of no major impact. The draft law provides too much
detail as to how rallies and demonstrations should be organized thus
making the organizers dependent on bureaucracy, Vutova said. The
experts reckon that the restrictions should be brought to a
minimum. Moreover, the draft law practically bans “spontaneous
gatherings” which must not be the case in a democratic society, Vutova

Vukova’s remarks angered the deputy speaker of parliament (and deputy
chairman of the Republican Party), Tigran Torosyan, who attended the
meeting. “We have always respected the views and work of the Venice
Commission, and I regard such harsh wording as strange, to say the
least,” he said. “In addition, proposals are being made at working
meetings and a completely different stance is being taken at public
meetings. This is also very strange and attests to political subtext,”
Torosyan said.

If there are any reservations about some sections of the draft law,
they must be discussed, he said. However, the statement that the draft
does not conform to Article 11 of the European convention is, Torosyan
said, ” unacceptable, at least”.

(Passage omitted: more than 100 amendments were taken into account and
minor details of the bill)