As you may notice, while in line with the general tone and overall recommendations made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Ago group proposal contains some important differences and is much more critical to the authorities.
The CoE Ago group arrived in Armenia on March 29 with an unprecedented delegation, which includes the delegates of 9 members of the Council of Europe. Since 2005 when it was set up the Ago Group has not visited Armenia with such a big delegation. This was stated by Per Sjogren on March 31 who held a news conference together with the foreign minister of Armenia Vardan Oskanyan. [...]
The recommendations of the Ago Group consisting of 6 points are directed at this. The first point is on the persons now kept at the penitentiary of the Center who were arrested in the post-election period or after March 1 and their families are not allowed to visit them. The group learned about this during their visit to the Center penitentiary. They have brought up this issue with the minister of justice and according to Per Sjogren, were assured that today the relevant agencies will solve this humanitarian issue.
The next point of the recommendations is that they endorse the calls of all the international organization to release the persons arrested for political reasons. Per Sjogren says Armenia is a member of the CoE, and a member of the CoE cannot have prisoners for political dissent. The European diplomat says it violates the commitments assumed on CoE membership and the European conventions.
The third recommendation of the Ago group is to the ministry of justice to regularly inform them about the release of prisoners and the procedures of trial of the arrested. Generally, with regard to the political prisoners the head of the Ago Group says it is a call, and a strong call and it is clear that this issue should be addressed urgently. The European diplomat says in Armenia they were at least assured that they will make necessary moves although the details were not discussed.
The fourth recommendation is an endorsement of an impartial, national investigation of the events of March 1. Per Sjogren says the details of the investigation is not their business but says it should not be carried out by one body, such as the office of prosecutor general but should be a national, comprehensive investigation which enjoys wide confidence.
The fifth recommendation of the Ago Group is on the amendments to the law on marches, demonstrations, rallies the National Assembly passed under the emergency rule, which actually prohibit marches, demonstrations, rallies in Armenia. The head of the Ago Group regrets that the bill was passed without consulting the Venice Commission. He said, however, that the Venice Commission has studied the law and has critical assessments which they have presented to the ministry of justice. The Ago Group was assured that the government will extend those assessments to the National Assembly.
Finally, the sixth recommendation of the Ago Group is a dialogue between the government and the opposition without preconditions.
The reporters noted that earlier the CoE had advised the opposition to accept the decision of the Constitutional Court which recognized the outcome of the presidential vote. They asked the head of the Ago Group why the six recommendations do not mention anything about it. Has the approach of the CoE regarding the Constitutional Court changed, or is the absence a misunderstanding? Per Sjogren said in this connection that dialogue is important because with regard to the point mentioned by the reporters it is important to launch a dialogue. The head of the Ago Group said their recommendations should be viewed in a long-term prospect.