Europarliament Members Refused Entry into Armenian Prisons

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–On a working visit in Armenia–the Europarliament Legal and Human Rights Commission delegation–which was to attend Armenian prisons–was met with obstacles when the press corps was turned away at the Noubarashen Prison.

National Assembly press services director responded to the incidence as saying that the delegation had been given permission to attend the prisons–however solitary confinemen’s were at the time of visit declared off limits. The official’s explanation did not however clarify why journalists were singled out and not allowed into the prisons.

"Armenia cannot be accepted into the European Union–because the legal and state structures in the country do not adhere to democratic–human rights and legal values and principles," read a statement by the human rights Avangard organization addressed to the visiting Europarliament Legal and Human Rights Commission in Armenia.

According to the statement–the European structure must insist that Armenia take principled and drastic measures in order to rectify the serious situation.

The statement outlines as these steps–among other things the dismissal of the "Trial of 31" political trial and the release of the political prisoners; the staging of a new constitutional referendum–as well as new parliamentary and presidential elections–in which the voice of the people is truly respected; the implementing of European human rights mechanisms.

"It is only through these steps which the Europarliament can ensure human rights and the rule of law to be present in Armenia. And–this will be an example to Armenia and other governmen’s to ensure the complete and utter observance of human rights laws and principles," read the statement.

Ironically–Avangard–and a number of other lawyers and human rights organizations were not invited to the Thursday meeting between the European delegation and a number of legal structures. Among the uninvited organizations were the Sakharov Foundation–and renowned defense attorneys–as well as Armenia’s Helsinki Initiative representatives–the Political Prionsers Defense Committee.

Present were state prosecutors and government structures.

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