Human rights have been a priority area for ELA from the moment the organisation was founded in January 2011.
Life: ELA has focused on the protection of the right to life since 2012 when ELA’s lawyers represented the victims and their legal successors in the so-called ‘Harsnaqar’ case. In the latter case as it became clear from the evidence the bodyguards of an ex-MP beat to death VaheAvetyan, a military doctor and inflicted injuries of a medium or light degree on his friends. The right to life of the military doctor was violated due to the failure of the state to effectively investigate the circumstances of the crime. ELA’s lawyers applied to ECtHR invoking failure by the State to effectively investigate into the circumstances of VaheAvetyan’s death.
In another case ELA also represented the legal successor of the victim – SaroSamvelyan – in a death case in the army. In both cases applications have been submitted to the European Court of Human Rights.
Prohibition of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: ELA’s lawyers have been involved in several torture cases since 2014. One was a case of a torture victim of the events of 1 March 2008 when the victim had been subjected to torture by the law enforcement officers following the March 1 events with a view to making him confess to illegal storing of weapons.
In another case one of ELA’s beneficiaries, Mr VartgezGaspari, was subjected to inhuman treatment whilst remanded in custody following an illicit court decision violating his right to liberty and security of a person. Following an application to the European Court of Human Rights for an interim measure under Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court, the case was communicated to the Armenian Government and Mr Gaspari was set free.
Freedom of expression: Freedom of expression has been in the focus of ELA’s attention since 2012. In 2011-2012 ELA in partnership with the UK-based free speech campaign ARTICLE19 and prominent British lawyers held a series of trainings for media workers, practicing lawyers and judges to familiarise them with the freedom of expression standards reflected in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. In 2012 ELA continued its efforts in the direction of raising public awareness on the international freedom of expression standards by training media workers in how to cover the 2012 parliamentary elections in a responsible and balanced manner. In the same year ELA conducted an analysis of the compliance of the rulings of domestic courts in defamation and insult cases with the relevant FOE standards reflected in the ECtHR case law.
Since 2012 ELA provided legal assistance and advice to a number of media and media workers in defence of their freedom of expression rights. Mention among them should be made of the cases of www.hetq.am, www.hraparak.am, www.ilur.am, www.armtimes.am
Free and fair elections: Since 2012 ELA concentrated on the right to free and fair elections. For more detail about ELA’s activities in this area see the section Elections and Referenda.
Freedom of assembly: Since 2013 ELA started protecting the rights of a number of civic activists engaged in protest acts against the state. The organisation provided legal assistance and advice to active citizens being taken to police stations during a number of protest acts held in 2013-2018. ELA’s lawyers also provided legal assistance to more than 200 civic activists in the proceedings initiated by the Police before the Administrative Court. In order to obstruct civic activists from exercising their free speech rights the Police would take complaints against them to the Administrative Court seeking the court to hold them liable for not obeying lawful police orders and to impose fines on them. The intention was to have the active citizens financially sanctioned to prevent them from exercising their right to protest. By virtue of ELA’s interference this tactics did not work in view of the fact that the involvement of ELA’s lawyers led to a situation whereby the police became short of human resources and was unable to properly represent itself in the courts. As a result, the Police stopped filing complaints against civic activists. ELA registered victory in about 50% of cases involving the rights of active citizens. Where it was not possible to win in the domestic courts, ELA has been lodging applications to the European Court of Human Rights. In addition to this, ELA won a number of cases before the Constitutional Court resulting in either holding of certain restrictive legislative provisions as unconstitutional or the Court interpreting these provisions in a manner commensurate with the standards of the right to freedom of assembly.
Privacy։An important privacy case ELA’s lawyers were involved in was a case against two media outlets – Aravot and Pastinfo – for using certain expressions which were intrusive of the right to privacy of one of ELA’s beneficiaries. At present, the case is in the European Court of Human Rights pending examination.
Refugees:Since 2018 ELA has been engaged in the protection of refugee rights. In this area we have successfully cooperated with the UNHCR and the NGO Mission Armenia.
The rights of women: Since 2019 ELA has embarked on a long-term project on enhancing women’s political participation in higher decision-making tiers. In the framework of this project ELA has been conducting a series of awareness-raising events to combat negative narratives obstructing women from better engaging in political decision-making.
This is a non-exhaustive list of the rights on which ELA has focused since its foundation in 2011.