By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Officials from the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) believe that the Armenian authorities have so far failed to comply with its recent resolution that demanded an end to the post-election crackdown on the opposition, a senior Armenian lawmaker said on Wednesday.
The issue was on the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting in Ukraine’s capital Kiev of a PACE commission monitoring member states’ compliance with Council of Europe standards for democracy and human rights.
According to David Harutiunian, head of the Armenian delegation at the Strasbourg-based assembly who attended the meeting, commission officials said the authorities in Yerevan should “intensify” their stated efforts to take steps stemming from the PACE resolution.
The resolution adopted on April 17 demanded an “independent, transparent and credible inquiry” into the March 1 deadly clashes in Yerevan between security forces and opposition supporters and “the urgent release of the persons detained on seemingly artificial and politically motivated charges.” It also called for the repeal of serious restrictions on freedom of assembly imposed following the unrest.
Some of those restrictions were scrapped by the Armenian parliament this month. The National Assembly is also expected to form an hoc commission that will investigate the March 1 deadly clashes. President Serzh Sarkisian and other senior officials present this as proof of their declared commitment to meeting the PACE demands backed by the European Union and the United States.
However, only a handful of prominent oppositionists arrested in the crackdown have been released from jail so far. Dozens of others remain under arrest on coup charges. The office of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian says the police continue to harass and detain his supporters across Armenia.
Speaking to RFE/RL from Kiev, Harutiunian said monitoring commission members believe that the relevant steps taken by the Armenian authorities so far are “only the beginning” and can not satisfy the PACE. He said two members of the commission, Georges Colombier and John Prescott, will visit Armenia ahead of the PACE’s next session due in late June to assess progress made towards the resolution’s implementation.
The PACE has warned that failure to comply with the document could lead to the suspension of the voting rights of its Armenian members.
(Council of Europe photo)