Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gearing up for the June session of PACE.

Shortly, PACE will be reviewing whether there has been a considerable progress in Armenia towards fulfilling the obligations outlined in Resolution 1609. Armenia faces the suspension of the voting rights of the Armenian delegation to PACE. Obviously, we can't judge whether there has been considerable progress if we dont' know exactly what these obligations are.
[...] 8. In view of the above, the Assembly recalls its Resolution 1532 (2007) on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Armenia and once more urges the Armenian authorities to undertake the following reforms without further delay:

8.1. the political system should guarantee a proper status and appropriate rights to the opposition;

8.2. the electoral process needs to be thoroughly reformed with a view to ensuring in particular: an impartial election administration that is free from control by any single political force; a fully transparent administration of the election process especially with regard to the vote count and tabulation process, as well as a complaints and appeals process that gives electoral stakeholders the fullest possible access to a legal remedy in case of perceived electoral violations and an equal playing field guaranteed in practice for all political forces both during the official campaign period and also prior to it;

8.3. the independence from any political interest of both the National Television and Radio Commission and the Public Television and Radio Council must be guaranteed. In addition, the composition of these bodies should be revised in order to ensure that they are truly representative of Armenian society. The recommendations made by the Venice Commission and Council of Europe experts in this respect must finally be taken into account. The Assembly reiterates that, apart from reforming the legislation, the authorities must take steps to ensure freedom and pluralism of public television and radio on a daily basis. Also, the harassment by the tax authorities of opposition electronic and printed media outlets must be stopped;

8.4. freedom of assembly must be guaranteed in both law and practice, in compliance with Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights; this requires that the amendments recently adopted by the National Assembly on the Law on Conducting Meetings, Assemblies, Rallies and Demonstrations be revoked in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission with immediate effect;

8.5. the authorities should step up their efforts to establish a truly independent judiciary and enhance the public’s trust in the courts;

8.6. arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as the ill-treatment of detainees, in particular during police custody, should be stopped. An effective public control mechanism over the police must be guaranteed both in law and practice. [...]
[...] 12. However, the Assembly considers that, for such a dialogue to start and be successful, a number of conditions need to be met as a matter of priority, in order to build confidence vis-à-vis the opposition and provide proof that the ruling majority is seriously committed to pursuing further reforms:

12.1. an independent, transparent and credible inquiry into the events of 1 March and the circumstances that led to them, including the alleged excessive use of force by the police and violence by the protesters, should be carried out immediately. The international community should be ready to monitor and assist such an inquiry;

12.2. the persons detained on seemingly artificial and politically motivated charges or who did not personally commit any violent acts or serious offences in connection with them should be released as a matter of urgency;

12.3. the amendments recently adopted by the National Assembly to the Law on Conducting Meetings, Assemblies, Rallies and Demonstrations should be revoked in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission with immediate effect. [...]
From what I can see, none of these demands have been met. The parliament tinkered with the point 8.4 but they did not fully comply with it. Instead of 'revoking' as the article demanded, they 'modified' the amendments on the Law on Conducting Meetings, Assemblies, Rallies and Demonstrations.

So the prognosis is negative.

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