July 20, 2012

Armenia answers to the Committee, avoids subject of LGBT

Geneva 17 July 2012.  The United Nations Human Rights Committee finalized the examination of the third periodic report of Armenia today, which took place on 16 and 17 July 2012.

In some areas of the dialogue between the Committee and the State delegation, the discussionwas progressive. In others, the Committee expressed concern about the lack of information provided by the State. The delegation was often pressed by the Committee for more specific, statistically based answers to some of its questions. When faced with inquiries regarding the March 2008 post-election violence in Armenia, the delegation offered little explanation as to the lack of investigation into, and criminal accountability for, the resulting deaths.

The Committee otherwise focused its attention on issues of gender-based violence, trafficking in human beings, prison conditions, corruption in the judiciary, and discrimination. One committee member challenged the State to “put its money where its mouth is, and provide necessary funding to combat gender-based violence”. The Committee took particular issue with the State’s attitude toward members of Armenia’s LGBT community. The Committee received information that a government official previously announced that LGBT individuals were “a threat to national security.” Explanations from the State regarding the measures currently undertaken to protect the human rights of these vulnerable individuals were noticeably sparse.

Having received information from independent sources regarding the objectivity of Armenia’s judiciary, the Committee confronted the delegation with allegations that the judiciary is dependent on the executive branch, and that judges tend to have a bias toward the prosecution. The Committee was deeply concerned about reports from NGOs stating that judges operate under the notion that justice is negotiable, and can be bought for the right price.

The Committee also reminded the delegation that it has been a party to the Optional Protocol for Individual Communications for twenty years. In that time, there has not been a single casesubmitted to the Committee by an individual victim of human rights violations. As such, the Committee questioned whether the State has actually made it known to the Armenian people that this important recourse is available to them.

Armenia was given forty-eight hours to address unanswered questions posed by the Committee –indicating that, after six hours of intensive dialogue, the Committee felt it needed more information from the State. Armenia must be forthcoming about the true state human rights in the country, and ensure the enactment and implementation of its pending human rights legislation and programming. These active measures are critical to demonstrating the State’scommitment to protecting the human rights of all Armenian people.

The Human Rights Committee will make its recommendations public at the end of its session, on 27 July 2012. The archived webcast of Armenia’s review can be seen at treatybodywebcast.org.For additional information on the review of the Armenia contact: Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR): www.ccprcentre.org /

info@ccprcentre.org(Centre for Civil and Political Rights/Ashley Tucker)

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