“The government of Nikol Pashinyan has embarked on an ambitious reform program, including in the area of anti-corruption, economic equality and justice,” said representatives of Human Rights Watch, in their annual report on human rights.
The authors of the report once again emphasize that the parliamentary elections held in Armenia in December 2018, according to international observers, met international standards and were held in a truly competitive atmosphere.
At the same time, representatives of Human Rights Watch note that in the sphere of protecting human rights in Armenia, there are still problems and shortcomings. This is especially true for the “limited nature” of investigating cases of violence and the use of excessive force by law enforcement agencies during the previous administration.
“The Armenian police have a history of disproportionate use of force during the dispersal of predominantly peaceful demonstrations,” Human Rights Watch experts wrote, recalling that a senior police officer was charged with killing a protester in June 2019.
“At the same time, investigations of the disproportionate use of force by the police against peaceful demonstrators and journalists in 2016 and 2015 remain suspended. The authorities claim that they cannot identify the perpetrators of the violence,” human rights activists say.
It should be noted that the cases indicated by Human Rights Watch concern clashes during the “Electric Yerevan” protests in June 2015 and protests in Yerevan’s Saritagh district in July 2016.
Regarding incidents between police and demonstrators during Pashinyan’s rule, the authors of the report note a protest in Yerevan last August against the exploitation of the Amulsar Gold Mine. During this protest, the authors of the report state that the police did not allow the rally to be held in a public park adjacent to the parliament building, detaining six demonstrators for a short period of time.
Among the human rights issues in Armenia, Human Rights Watch experts also note cases of domestic violence and the reaction of law enforcement agencies to them.
“According to official documents, in the first half of 2019, Armenian law enforcement authorities investigated 331 criminal cases of domestic violence, including 176 newly opened cases. In these cases, 209 official charges were brought and only 45 cases reached the court,” the authors of the report note.
Human Rights Watch also does not bypass cases of violence against sexual minorities and activists protecting their rights.
“Between January and August 2019, Pink Armenia and other organizations protecting the interests of the LGBTQ community reported 17 cases of violence in Armenia based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” the report says.
Human Rights Watch also addressed the topic of discussions in Armenia regarding the Istanbul Convention, noting that often “hate speech was used.” At the same time, human rights activists consider it necessary to emphasize that “ratification of the Istanbul Convention will not contradict the country’s Constitution.”