ARF Stands Firmly Against Death Penalty

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Speaking about a proposal made by several parliament members to–in abolishing the death penalty–preserve it for vicious crimes–including first degree murder–child rape and terrorism–the political representative of the ARF Supreme Body and co-chairman of the foreign affairs commission of the Armenian National Assembly Armen Rustamian–called the issue political rather than legislative.

Rustamian who stated that he appreciates open debates and discussions on the matter–calling freedom of speech an ‘essential outcome’ derived from Armenia’s integration to European political structures–nevertheless stressed that Armenia must stay committed to all obligations placed by the Council of Europe. "As long as the Council of Europe (COE) has its strict rules and regulations–to provide a list of exemptions to the abolishment of the death penalty–is absurd and endangers Armenia’s integration process into Europe," Rustamian said.

"We do not want to go back to where we are coming from," he said–and added that Armenia’still faces major challenges–particularly the unresolved issue of Mountainous Karabagh Republic–an issue already on COE’s agenda. "We constantly witness how Turkey and Azerbaijan utilize every opportunity–in the COE–to weaken Armenia."

"Armenia is presently on the correct political path and we must not jeopardize this historical opportunity," announced the ARF representative.

According to Rustamian–discussions on the death penalty will clarify the true identity of some political forces–especially on the eve of the February 2003 presidential elections.

"The ARF fraction in Armenian parliament has officially requested the withdrawal of the proposed exemptions on the death penalty abolishment issue; if the list of exemptions is approved– it will certainly impair our political advancement and bring about the difficult task of having to justify such a decision," concluded Rustamian.

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