Human Rights Seminar Held in Yerevan

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Director General of the National Center for Democracy and Human Rights Vladimir Karmirshalian spoke at an October 7 seminar dedicated to the development of a national plan of action for protection of human rights in Armenia. He said that in Armenia–a state currently going through a transition period–social rights are mainly the target of violations. This–in particular–includes such rights as the right to free choice of employment–satisfactory living conditions–social benefits in case of disability–etc.–he said.

He also stressed that the provisions allowing law enforcement agencies to use torture and other degrading actions are still in effect. According to Karmirshalian–an official declaration of the Armenian leadership–whereby the commission dealing with torture cases could receive personal complaints from citizens–who consider themselves to be victims of torture–would be a strong impulse and guarantee in combating the phenomena. Such powers are stipulated by Article 22 of the Convention. Given the fact that the death sentence has been removed from a draft Criminal Law–Karmirshalian said that Armenia’should assume new obligations and accede to the Protocol on Cancellation of death sentences attached to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Describing the Armenian refugee law as generally meeting international standards–Karmirshalian noted that problems of refugees–children and women’should also be included into the National plan of action. According to the human rights activist–it is time that Armenia’should accede to the International Convention on Political Rights.

Noting that the delay in the establishment of the office of human rights ombudsman impedes the progress in the human rights area–chairman of the presidential human rights commission Paruyr Hairikian said that currently the authorities are trying to freeze the adoption of the law.

According to chairman of the Helsinki Association Mikael Danielian–the law on the human rights ombudsman’should be adopted after amendmen’s are made to the existing legislation. He said that it is necessary to adopt such laws as the law on the jury–on the withdrawal of judges–on alternative service–on psychiatry–etc. Danielian opined that the law on court–prosecutor’s office and the bar–refugees–freedom of conscience–and mass media should be revised. Instead of the latter–he said–it is imperative to adopt a law on free access to information sources.

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