Prescott Welcomes Easing of Emergency Restrictions

STRASBOURG (Armenpress)–Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Ad hoc Committee on monitoring Armenian presidential elections John Prescott Tuesday welcomed Armenian President Robert Kocharian’s lifting of some of the restrictions of the state of emergency imposed in Yerevan last week.
"I especially welcome the lifting of the suspension of the activities of political parties and NGOs, which I specifically called for during my visit," he said. "I now call upon the authorities to lift the remaining provisions of the declaration of the State of Emergency, especially those that limit the freedom of the media."
"I reiterate my conclusion that the only manner in which the current crisis can be resolved is through the recognition of the authority of the Constitutional Court and its ruling on the outcome of the Presidential elections, the lifting of the State of Emergency and the restoration of individual Human Rights and Freedoms," he added.
The establishment of an independent inquiry into the events of March 1 and the start of a dialogue between all political forces on the necessary political and electoral reform is imperative, said Prescott.
Prescott will report on his findings and conclusions to the President of the Assembly at the meeting of the PACE Bureau in Paris on Tuesday.
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg is scheduled to arrive in Yerevan Wednesday for a three-day visit where he will meet high-ranking government officials and heads of opposition to discuss the protection of fundamental human rights in Armenia.
During his visit, the Commissioner will meet, among others, President Robert Kocharian, Prime Minister and President-elect Serzh Sarkisian, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, Parliament Speaker Tigran Torosian, the Chairman of the Constitutional Court, the Armenian Human Rights Commissioner Armen Harutyunian, as well as representatives of international organizations, diplomats and representatives of civil society.
Commissioner Hammarberg will also visit Armenian prisons, police stations and hospitals to meet with people affected by the events.
"I am concerned about the human rights situation in Armenia and the consequences of the declaration of the state of emergency," said Hammarberg. "It is urgent to restore a situation where the activities of the media, political parties and non-governmental organizations are not hindered."

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