European Official Notes Slow Progress Of Probe Into Armenian Post-El


July 16 2008

The investigation of the March post-election unrest in the Armenian
capital is "too slow", Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner
Thomas Hammarberg said at a news conference in Yerevan on 15 July.

"Unfortunately, policemen have not become at this stage an object of
the investigation" of the death of 10 people in the 1 March clashes
between opposition protesters and police in Yerevan, Aravot daily
quoted Hammarberg as saying.

Hammarberg also criticized the Armenian government for the failure
to fully comply with Resolution 1620 of the Parliamentary Assembly
of the Council of Europe that urged democratic reforms.

Hammarberg said he was concerned over long-term arrests of opposition
members following the March disturbances, Aravot said. "I have voiced
concern over the fact that some of the political activists have been
in detention for four-and-a-half months already, the terms of their
detention have been prolonged and their cases have not yet gone
to court," Aravot quoted Hammarberg as saying. "I suggested to the
government – let them quickly send all their cases to court if they
have evidence, otherwise let them release them."

Hammarberg said that according to the PACE resolution adopted in
June, "no verdict should be issued based on testimonies of policemen
alone". However, this provision of the resolution is not being complied
with, he said.

Hammarberg said that the participation of foreign experts in the work
of the Armenian parliamentary commission for the investigation of
the 1 March events was still under discussion. "I will not be able to
ensure experts from abroad if I myself am not sure that the procedure
is reliable, independent and impartial," Aravot quoted him as saying.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe issued a resolution
urging democratic reforms in Armenia following the post-election
unrest in Yerevan on 1-2 March. The PACE extended the term of the
implementation of the reforms till January 2009 adopting a follow-up
resolution at its June session.
From: Baghdasarian