PACE Worried By Situation In Armenia


July 15, 2008 Tuesday

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is
deeply troubled by the situation in Armenia, the CE Commissioner
for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg says. At a meeting held in the
Armenian parliament, Hammarberg, who is paying a three-day visit
to Yerevan, said there were serious problems with the protection of
human rights in the country. He said the legislature should play a
role in investigating the violent dispersal of demonstrators that
followed Armenias February 19 presidential election and the influence
of political forces on the scritiny should be minimized.

The scrutiny should be conducted transparently so that the public
confides in its outcome. The post-election mass protests were
put down with the use of force. The opposition had refused to
recognize the results of the election won by Prime Minister Serzh
Sarkisian, charging vote rigging and taking to the streets. 28
people were reported killed and hundreds were injured during the
demonstrations on March 1. Hammarberg also met with the Armenian
presidential administration chief Ovik Abramian. The latter tried to
assure the commissioner that his government was working to arraign
those responsible for the violence and to properly investigate the
developments. Hammarberg said he intended to thoroughly study progress
in the implementation of Armenias commitments to the CE and the
post-election situation in particular. No one should be prosecuted
for their political views, he added. Representatives of Armenian
NGOs said after meeting the human rights commissioner that the CE
official had confirmed that the political prisoners in the country
had been convicted on baseless charges. Hammarberg said none of the
demands the CE had put forth to the Armenian government in the past
months had been implemented. Hammarberg will prepare a report on the
outcomes of his visit that will be submitted to the PACE Monitoring
Committee on September 11.