Support to Exercise of the Right to Freedom of Assembly in Armenia

Project Duration:                 01/05/2018 – 31/10/2018

Grant Amount:                      29 410 Euro

Funding Organisation:      European Endowment for Democracy

In 2015 a constitutional referendum was held in Armenia upon the initiative of ex-President SerzhSargsyan. Despite the fact that the results of the referendum were seriously questioned by both the international and domestic observation missions (See the relevant reports of the OSCE/ODIHR and the Citizen Observer Initiative), the constitutional amendments entered into force. This was followed by the parliamentary elections in 2017, which again fell short of the international standards due to widespread practices of vote-buying (See the report of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission) and other serious violations (See ELA’s report prepared following election observation by the Citizen Observer Initiative).

Despite the fact that ex-President SerzhSargsyan promised back in 2014 that if the constitutional amendments were adopted, he would not run for any high-level ruling position in the State, in 2018 he changed his mind and had both the Republican and Dashnaksutyun parties nominate him as the candidate for the Prime-Minister of Armenia.

Since mid-April 2018 the leader of the non-ruling party Civil Contract, and two civic movements have led the people of Armenia out to streets with a demand for SerzhSargsyan not to run as Prime Minister of Armenia.

On 17 April 2018, SerzhSargsyan was elected as Prime Minister by the majority of the Armenian parliament in a process which took place in the building of the parliament with the adjacent streets protected from protesters by thousands of policemen, heavy riot machinery and barbed wire.As a result of the use of the special means by the police 46 people were wounded.

Since 16 April dozens of protesters have been detained by police in various police stations, the numbers of detainees increasing on a daily basis. On 20 April the number of detainees reached 233 and on 22 April – 232.

In view of the aforesaid, ELA proposes to implement a project, which will have a preventive effect on restrictions by the authorities of the fundamental right to freedom of assembly of everyone within the jurisdiction of Armenia.

The actions proposed in the framework of the proposed project is to ensure the exercise in Armenia of everyone’s right to freedom of assembly and include:

  1. Publication of short instructions to protesters on what to do when their right to freedom of assembly and/or other related rights are restricted;
  2. Cooperating with practicing lawyers delivering legal assistance to protesters with a view to collecting statements on the facts of violations and Power of Attorneys from victims of violations for domestic and ECtHR proceedings;
  3. Submitting administrative complaints on behalf of detained protesters to contest unlawful police restrictions of their fundamental rights;
  4. Submitting reports on crimes to the law enforcement bodies on behalf of detained protesters with a view to making the law enforcement authorities to investigate cases of exceeding their powers by police officers when detaining peaceful protesters;
  5. Submitting applications to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of detained protesters contesting restrictions of their rights to freedom of assembly; liberty and security of a person; prohibition of tortureand/or other inhuman/degrading treatment, right to property, freedom from discrimination, effective legal remedy, etc.

Those directly benefitting from the action will include the active citizens of Armenia and the broader Armenian public.