January 27, 2015

The new draft law on NGOs has caused public sector concerns

According to the new draft law on NGOs submitted by the government, there will be a requirement on financial reports of the non-governmental organizations, and sanctions will be used in case NGOs do not provide the government with the requested reports.

This draft is still in the stage of discussions, but many human rights activists are concerned that this amendment will be put at risk the independence of NGOs.

While the Ministry of Justice argues that instead of trying to control, the law will make the work of the organizations more transparent, David Amiryan, Deputy Director for Programs of the Open Society Foundations - Armenia,commented that failing to report in details on the fundings and purposes can cause the executive to claim the NGOs to stop the activities in Court. This may become a powerful tool in the hands of government to control and threaten the activities of NGOs.

The draft law also require the NGOs to submit an audit report if their annual financial turnover exceeds 10 million. However, the positive sides of the bill include the investment of the volunteering institution, the right of the NGOs to appeal to court itself.

* Note: A few month ago the Ambassador of Russia announced that it would be good for Armenia to have a piece of legislation to control non-governmental organizations as there is one in Russia.

January 20, 2015

Criminals are more welcomed to Armenia than LGBT people

The head of the Police's Public Relations and Information Department Ashot Aharonyan addressed the information spread in Armenia media, that a huge number of criminals are coming to Armenia these days as thieves in law (criminals who are respected, have authority and a high ranking status within the criminal underworld in the old Soviet Union, Russia and the republics that formed the former Soviet Union) meeting is to take place. Aharonyan noted that thousands of people are visiting Armenia for Christmas and New Year holidays, where a person’s right to freedom of movement is protected by law.

Police have announced that the rumors are not true, and that the representatives of the criminal world are constantly in sight of the police, and that each of their move is monitored by law enforcement bodies. 2 weeks later the website Rosbalt.ru reported that the biggest meeting of “thieves in law” took place in Armenia.

Arsen Babayan, the head of Public Relations and Media Department of National Assembly, most likely by trying to support the statements given by the police, explained: “According to the same principle, among the visitors to Armenia these days there will probably be a lot of 'homo-addicts' as well. So what shall we do, shall we blame the Ministry of Health? It is better for the 'thieves in law' to come rather than 'homo-addicts', to whom, unfortunately, media seems to treat naturally".

* Note: homo-addiction is an offensive term to be used in Armenia referring to homosexuality.