By Karine Kalantarian
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg, who has been on a five-day visit to Armenia since Sunday, says his fact-finding mission is focused on a broad spectrum of issues related to human rights in the country and is a routine practice for all Council of Europe member states.
Hammarberg said his main meetings would be held in Armenia’s capital Yerevan and second largest city Gyumri. He also announced that he would submit the summary report on the human rights situation in Armenia to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers no later than in three months.
But before that he promised to “summarize his impressions” at a press briefing just before leaving Armenia.
Hammarberg avoided voicing any opinions yet pertaining to the human rights situation in Armenia, but said the mission would focus on the country’s judicial system and corruption risks in it, as well as a broad scope of issues related to free speech, trafficking, the rights of vulnerable social and economic groups, and others.
“Of course, we have gone through all the reports from others, but I would like to see myself and have discussions myself for pronouncing any clear opinion,” Hammarberg told RFE/RL before leaving for Gyumri on Tuesday.
Apart from gathering information about human rights issues in the country the mission is also due to review the country’s progress in solving issues highlighted in the previous reports.
According to the commissioner, the Armenian authorities will be offered to draw a plan of action to follow the guidelines presented in the report to redress the existing shortcomings.
The Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner is due to pay another visit to Armenia in three months’ time for additional discussions around these issues.