Parliament to Discuss Protest Law Amendmen’s with President, Says Torosyan

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Armenia’s Parliament Speaker Tigran Torosyan told President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Luis Maria de Puig during a meeting in St. Petersburg Thursday that Armenia’s National Assembly with discuss the amendmen’s made to the law on protests and public gathering
The discussion between the two centered around the democratic processes in Armenia, the presidential elections, the post-election events were at the core of the meeting.
Torosyan expressed his appreciation to the balanced reaction of PACE to the events in Armenia, attaching importance to CoE role and mission in solving the existing problems.
Puig said PACE was worried about the post-election developmen’s and said he was personally interested in deepening of democratic principles and values in Armenia. He said, the Council of Europe believes in Armenia’s commitment to Council of Europe values and principles. He noted that Armenia is a member of the Council of Europe family and PACE will do its best to ensure the continuousness of stability and democratic processes in Armenia.
Meanwhile, Rafik Petrosian, chairman of the Armenian parliament’s committee on legal affairs, made it clear on Thursday that the amendmen’s will not be revised anytime soon despite pressure from the Europeans. “These changes will not be repealed in the near future because they are important for the security of our state and people and for public order,” Petrosian told RFE/RL. “When a person’s life is in danger their political rights can not be fully protected,” he said
This came after Europe’s two leading human rights watchdogs have expressed serious concern about the Armenian authorities’ recently enacted legal amendmen’s that effectively banned further anti-government rallies in the country.
"On the basis of a preliminary assessment, the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR Expert Panel on Freedom of Assembly do not consider the proposed amendmen’s to be acceptable, to the extent that they restrict further the right of assembly in a significant fashion," they said in a joint statement released late Wednesday.
The two bodies had submitted a detailed analysis of the amendmen’s to the leadership of the Armenian parliament late last week. Its findings were high on the agenda of an ensued visit to Yerevan by members of a more influential Council of Europe body monitoring the fulfillment of Armenia’s membership commitmen’s to the Strasbourg-based organization. Diplomats making up the so-called Ago Group pressed Armenian leaders to accept the Venice Commission’s and ODIHR’s recommendations in addition to engaging in dialogue with the opposition and releasing political prisoners.
The Armenian authorities say that the restrictions on freedom of assembly are necessary for preventing a repeat of the March 1 clashes between security forces and opposition supporters protesting against official results of the February 19 election.

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