Tuesday, 18 March 2008

PACE Monitoring Committee concerns about continuing arrests in Armenia and calls on all sides to accept its proposal

*Unzipped - compare PACE proposition with a proposal contained in an open letter to prime minister Serj Sargsyan by Armenian cultural workers

Meeting in Paris on 18 March 2008, the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) expressed its deep concern about the arrest of more than one hundred people in Armenia and the conditions in which such arrests took place, following the events of 1 March during which eight people died and some two hundred persons were injured.

In the opinion of the committee, the arrest of large numbers of opposition leaders and of three Members of Parliament is inevitably perceived as a crack-down on the opposition by the authorities and will do nothing to ease the tensions in Armenia. The committee called on all sides to refrain from any action that would increase the tensions and to commit themselves to a genuine dialogue to resolve the current crisis.

The committee was informed by its envoy John Prescott of the main conclusions arising from his fact-finding mission to Yerevan, on 7 and 8 March 2008, and called on all sides to accept Mr Prescott's proposals aimed at resolving the current crisis, in particular:

* the recognition by all sidesof the authority of the Constitutional Court and its ruling on the outcome of the Presidential elections;

* the lifting of the state of emergency and the restoring of individual human rights and freedoms;
* the release of all jailed activists who have not committed violent crimes;
* the establishment of an independent inquiry into the circumstances that led to the events on 1 March 2008 and the monitoring of the on-going investigation process;

* the initiation of a dialogue between all political forces, in the following areas:
- reform of the electoral framework with a view to regaining public trust in the conduct and outcome of elections;
- reform of the political system with a view to providing a proper place for the opposition in the decision-making process and governance of the country;
- media reform, especially aimed at the creation of a truly independent public broadcaster.

The Monitoring Committee noted that the dialogue between all political forces could be initiated in the form of round tables under the aegis of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly.

The committee welcomed the fact that all political group leaders in the Assembly have requested that a debate under urgent procedure be held on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia during the April part-session of the Assembly (14-18 April 2008).


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