By Ruzanna Khachatrian and Karine Kalantarian
A Council of Europe official advocates the right of Armenia’s former ombudsperson to make an annual report on her activities in a due form.
Special representative of the CE Secretary General Bojana Urumova said in an RFE/RL interview today that the organization is closely following the development of the Ombudsman’s institution in Armenia, the establishment of which was among Armenia’s commitments to join the European family of nations.
“The provisions of this law on the Ombudsman should be respected and the report on 2005 should be presented in its entire form, because the public has the right to know,” Urumova told RFE/RL.
Armenia’s first ombudsperson Larisa Alaverdian was determined to submit the report on her activities in 2005 ever since she was relieved of her duties in January.
Under an Armenian law on the ombudsman, the state official has to issue reports detailing their activities every year. Alaverdian, who had been appointed by President Robert Kocharian, had to step down in compliance with Armenia’s amended constitution that mandates the ombudsperson’s election by parliament. She insisted that she held the post in the course of last year and therefore has the right to report to the National Assembly.
Alaverdian is known to have repeatedly criticized the Kocharian administration’s human rights record during her two-year tenure and her current, published by some mass media in concise versions, is also known to be critical of the government.
Now Alaverdian says she will present her report in full at the end of this month. “At this moment the report is fully prepared. I want to add some final touches to it. I am not in a hurry because the law allows me to do that until March 31,” she told RFE/RL.
Regarding the recent developments connected with the election of a new ombudsperson, Urumova said: “What I would like to stress is that it is positive that the vacancy has been filled, that there is a new ombudsman now who can be of service to the society.”
She said independence and impartiality are crucial for this institution and the goal of the ombudsman is to serve the people.
The Council of Europe continues to closely monitor the press freedom situation in Armenia, the CE representative said.
She reminded that both at the PACE Monitoring Commission, Ministerial Committee’s AGO Group had raised the concern regarding the absence of proper justification for the refusal to grant a license to A1 Plus TV.
“According to European standards, granting or refusal of broadcasting licenses must be based on consistent, unbiased and transparent criteria,” she said.
She also reminded of CE statements on the manner of forming the Public TV and Radio Commission in which political interference on its members should be ruled out.
Under the amended Constitution, half of the members of this Commission will be appointed by the National Assembly, and the other half by the country’s President. Now the president single-handedly appoints the whole commission until the Law on “Television and Radio” is amended.
However, the transitional provisions of the Constitution are not specific about the deadline for amending this law. The law is not included in the government list of laws to be amended in 2006 in compliance with the recently adopted constitutional amendments.