Venice Commission, OSCE to Issue Joint Statement on Armenian Rally Law

YEREVAN (ArmRadio)-The Council of Europe’s Venice Commission is scheduled to adopt a draft opinion this weekend regarding the Armenian government’s compliance with a Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) resolution, passed in mid April, demanding political reform after post-election unrest in the country resulted in the declaration of a state of emergency.

The statement, which will focus on the Armenian Parliament’s recent amendmen’s to a law on public assembly, will be drafted as a joint statement with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

Armenia’s Parliament on Wednesday passed, in the second and final reading, a bill abolishing some of the restrictions on freedom of assembly which were imposed on March 17, following the declaration of a state of emergency after post-election riots in Yerevan.

The new bill was drawn up on the basis of understandings reached by the parliament leadership and representatives of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission in late April. The latter have said that the proposed fresh amendmen’s to the law "largely address the concerns" expressed by the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

According to the Speaker of the National Assembly, The amendmen’s will not only bring Armenia’s laws on public assembly into conformity with European standards, but will also be an improvement over its [more liberal] version that existed before March 17.

One of the adopted amendmen’s scrapped a clause that allowed the Armenian authorities to "temporarily" ban rallies for an unspecified period of time after previous street protests resulted on March 1 resulted in casualties. The authorities said earlier that the ban is necessary for preventing a repeat of the March 1 deadly clashes in Yerevan between security forces and opposition supporters protesting against official results of the February 19 presidential election.

The Venice Commission-OSCE/ODIHR Statement will come a week before the deadline set for Armenia to meet the deman’s put forth in PACE resolution 1609. Its text will be accessible on June 16 at www.venice.coe.int.

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