PACE Head Visits Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The president of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), Lluis Maria de Puig, began on Wednesday a two-day visit to Armenia aimed at assessing its government’s compliance with the Strasbourg-based human rights organization’s recent resolutions.

De Puig held talks with Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, senior Armenian lawmakers, opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian and members of local civic groups. He is scheduled to meet with President Serzh Sarkisian, parliament speaker Tigran Torosian and human rights Ombudsman Armen Harutiunian.

A PACE statement last week said that de Puig plans to look into "the credibility of the inquiry" into the deadly post-election unrest in Yerevan and to "urgently raise the issue of people detained in connection with these events."

The release of opposition supporters arrested "seemingly artificial and politicially motivated charges" is a key demand contained in the PACE’s resolutions on Armenia adopted in April and June. The assembly also demanded that the Armenian authorities fully restore civil liberties and allow an independent investigation into the March 1 clashes between opposition supporters and security forces.

"Something has been done [by the authorities] but there are still very important questions that have not been resolved until now," de Puig told RFE/RL after his meetings in the Armenian parliament. He echoed concerns expressed in that regard by the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Thomas Hammarberg, during his recent visit to Yerevan.

"The response to our recommendations is still unsatisfactory," Hammarberg said on July 15. He questioned the independence of an Armenian parliamentary commission investigating the March 1 clashes said only those oppositionists who personally committed or incited violent crimes should be prosecuted.

"I completely support the proposal of Mr. Hammarberg on all questions," said de Puig.

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