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UN Special Rapporteur presents preliminary results of visit to Armenia and recommendations to its authorities

Political

Fabian Salvioli, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, has presented at a press conference the preliminary conclusions on the results of the 10-day official visit to Armenia. He said that he visited Syunik, Jermuk, Yeghegis, met with refugees, relatives of victims, the media, civil society, diplomats, representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Security Council, the National Security Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, the interdepartmental commission on prisoners, hostages and missing persons, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ombudswoman, deputies. The purpose of the visit is to establish truth and justice, human rights violations. The final report is addressed to the authorities of the Republic of Armenia and international structures; it will be presented in September 2024 at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.

The report touches on almost all areas of the entire history of RA independence – starting with the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, victims of repression during the Soviet period, violations of the rights of residents of Nagorno-Karabakh and deportation in September 2023, dubious deaths in the Armed Forces, cases of torture in prisons and prisons, violations of electoral right. The special rapporteur touched upon the creation of a National Assembly commission to investigate the events of March 1, 2008 and noted that those who killed 10 people during these events were not identified, the commissions on the 4-day war of 2016 and the 44-day war of 2020. He touched upon the issue of transitional justice, noted that reforms in the legal system and the recent ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC. According to the special rapporteur, despite the reforms, efforts to punish officials are still insufficient. As an example, he cited the use of unlawful force by police against demonstrators, with the police continuing to act in the same spirit as in past years. “There are many complaints about non-combat deaths in the Armed Forces and the judicial system,” Salvioli noted. He placed particular emphasis on the imperfection of legislation regarding the payment of compensation to victims of human rights violations, starting with victims of repression during the Soviet era. Another problem is that victims of rights violations are given three years to file a complaint and demand compensation, which limits opportunities; only monetary compensation is provided, and the amount is relatively small. “The Tsitsernakaberd Memorial is dedicated to the memory of 1.5 million victims of genocide committed by the authorities of the Ottoman Empire. There is a memorial to those killed in the massacre in Azerbaijan and in the war, the Day of the Missing is celebrated, but officials do not always participate in events on this date,” the special rapporteur noted, speaking about issues of preserving memory. In the same part, he noted that representatives of civil society are talking about the possible political exaggeration of including texts about the events of March 1, 2008 in the school curriculum.                    In the part about guarantees of non-repetition, he noted the reforms of different years in the law enforcement system, penal institutions, and the judicial system. In terms of combating corruption, specialized investigative anti-corruption structures have been created. In general, according to him, the administrations that have led Armenia since independence have implemented a number of measures to eliminate human rights violations and transition to democracy or compensate for damage. But progress has been inconsistent, the special rapporteur believes.  Fabian Salvioli called on the authorities to establish an independent body to investigate human rights violations in the categories identified in this statement. He called on prosecutors and the courts to redouble their efforts to carry out their duties and investigate questionable deaths in the army and prisons.  He stated that after the “velvet revolution” of 2018, certain measures were developed, but progress is slow due to the coronavirus pandemic and the escalation of the conflict with Azerbaijan. There were also reports of a lack of transparency in appointments, he said. “I urge the country’s authorities to deepen reforms and free government agencies from corruption and political influence. Respect for democracy is impossible otherwise,” said the UN special rapporteur.

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