Parliament Amen’s Law on Public Gatherings

YEREVAN (ArmRadio)–Armenia’s Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to amend a law curbing political demonstrations passed in the wake of political unrest in Yerevan following Armenia’s presidential elections.
The restrictions took the form of amendmen’s to an Armenian law on street gatherings. The National Assembly passed the restrictions on March 17, four days before the end of a state of emergency initiated by then President Robert Kocharian after violent clashes between opposition supporters and police in Yerevan on March 1. The amendmen’s expanded police oversight over public assembly by allowing the authorities to "temporarily" ban rallies for an unspecified period to prevent a repetition of the violence.
With a vote of 93 to 6 the National Assembly Tuesday passed a draft law effectively reversing the restrictions, which empowered law-enforcement authorities to prohibit anti-government demonstrations.
The amendmen’s had prompted strong criticism from the international community. A partial or full repeal of the restrictions was a key demand contained in a resolution on Armenia adopted by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on April 17. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, two organizations highly critical of the March 17 amendmen’s, welcomed Tuesday’s vote, which had only one abstention.
Following the vote, the author of the bill, National Assembly Speaker Tigran Torosyan called on the deputies to present further suggestions before the second reading of the law.

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