YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The situation with human rights in Armenia has improved considerably since the change of government one year ago is now "satisfactory," a presidential body comprising prominent public figures said on Wednesday.
"There have been positive changes with respect to human rights in Armenia’since the 1998 presidential elections," said a report by the commission on human rights which works under President Robert Kocharian’s aegis.
Presenting the report–the head of the commission and prominent Soviet-era dissident–Paruir Hayrikian–listed the end of "political trials," and the legalization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and its newspapers among the main achievemen’s of the present authorities. But the report–presented to the press by Hayrikian–also pointed to some persisting problems that need urgent action by the government. It singled out human rights abuses in the military and the widespread practice of torture by law-enforcement bodies.
Last month–the Human Rights Watch–a famous American human rights group–said little has changed in Armenia’since Kocharian took over one year ago. It said Armenia’still does not qualify for a full membership in the Council of Europe. The organization said the March 1998 presidential election showed virtually no improvement in the government’s handling of elections. Hayrikian–who heads the pro-Kocharian Self-Determination Union–has said the vote was been free and fair–while acknowledging minor irregularities.