Pace Panel Defers Decision On Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A key panel of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) reportedly deferred making further recommendations regarding the Armenian authorities’ treatment of the opposition after a meeting held in Valencia, Spain late on Monday.

The Monitoring Committee discussed, among other issues, the authorities’ compliance with the most recent PACE resolution on Armenia. The resolution, adopted in late January, deplored the continuing imprisonment of dozens of Armenian opposition members and supporters arrested following the February 2008 presidential election.

But the Strasbourg-based assembly backed down on its threats to suspend the voting rights of its Armenian members, citing Yerevan’s pledge to amend Criminal Code articles used against the most prominent of the arrested oppositionists.

According to David Harutiunian, head of the Armenian delegation at the PACE who attended the Valencia meeting, the Monitoring Committee welcomed the relevant amendmen’s passed by the Armenian parliament on March 18. “They at the same time stressed the importance of enforcing the law,” he told RFE/RL from the Spanish city.

Harutiunian said that enforcement will be “at the center of the Monitoring Committee’s attention” in the weeks leading up to the PACE’s next session due in late April. “I think the enforcement of the law should happen before the April session and depending on the results of the enforcement, the Monitoring Committee will again address the issue,” he said.

The PACE resolution said that the Criminal Code amendmen’s should result in the release of many detained oppositionists. Armenian officials have been far more vague on this score, however.


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