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Saturday, 12 July 2008

Focus on political prisoners: Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner Hammarberg visits Armenia

Quite symptomatically, press release by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights office is accompanied by this photo of "Post-Election Protest Demonstration, Yerevan. Photo©Onnik Krikorian/Oneworld Multimedia 2008" (photo is available on the front page of their web site)

Strasbourg, 11.07.2008 – The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, will start on Sunday a three-day visit to Erevan to weigh the progress made in the investigation of the violent events in connection with the demonstrations after the Presidential election in March. He will meet with the highest national authorities and will visit prisons accompanied by two members of his Office and Johan Hirschfeldt, an international expert with extensive experience on national commissions of inquiry.

“This visit is part of the ongoing dialogue with the Armenian authorities, and follows the visits carried out last October and March” said the Commissioner. “In my last report on Armenia, I advocated for a comprehensive investigation into the 1 March events. The aim of this visit is therefore to take stock of the progress made towards this end and gather accurate information on the number of detainees and their judicial status” continued Commissioner Hammarberg. “I have also taken note of the recent Resolution adopted by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia. In this context, I intend to provide an international contribution towards the improvement of the human rights situation in the country.”

During his visit, the Commissioner will meet the highest State authorities, including the President Serzh Sargsyan, leading members of the Government, Parliament representatives, the Prosecutor General and members of the ad hoc Parliamentary inquiry committee. Commissioner Hammarberg will also hold further meetings with detainees and their lawyers, the Human Rights Defender, as well as representatives of international organisations and civil society.

*source (press release)

7 comments:

artmika said...

In relation to this visit, I think it's very relevant to remind again of the latest PACE resolution on Armenia. Below is a press release by the Council of Europe summarising its key points.

Progress in Armenia insufficient, says PACE; full compliance expected by January 2009

Strasbourg, 26.06.2008 – Despite the political will expressed by the Armenian authorities to meet the requirements outlined in Resolution 1609 (2008) on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) takes the view, in a resolution adopted yesterday at the end of an urgent debate, that "progress is at present insufficient”. It regrets "the delay in implementing concrete measures" to overcome the political crisis that broke out after the presidential election on 19 February, while acknowledging that "the time given to the Armenian authorities was short".

According to the Assembly, "the detention and conviction of opposition supporters in relation to the events of 1 March 2008 will be a point of contention that will continue to strain the relations between opposition and authorities and could hinder the conduct of a constructive dialogue on the reforms needed for Armenia". PACE therefore "urges the Armenian authorities to consider all legal means available to them, including amnesty, pardons and dismissal of charges with respect to all persons detained or sentenced by a court in relation to the events of 1 and 2 March 2008".

PACE points out that "freedom of assembly should be guaranteed in practice". Moreover, it welcomes the constitution, within the National Assembly, of an ad hoc committee "to conduct an inquiry into the events of 1 and 2 March 2008 as well as the causes that led to them". This Committee has “the possibility to invite national and international experts to participate in its work, which should increase the credibility of its investigations,” the parliamentarians said.

As proposed by the Monitoring Committee co-rapporteurs, Georges Colombier (France, EPP/CD) and John Prescott (United Kingdom, SOC), who visited the country on 16 and 17 June to assess the situation, the Assembly decided to review the extent of Armenia’s compliance with the requirements in Resolution 1609 at its January 2009 part-session, and to consider the possibility of suspending the voting rights of the Armenian delegation at the opening of the session if the conditions set out in the resolution were not met.

PACE Resolution 1609 (2008)

PACE Resolution 1620 (2008)

Onnik Krikorian said...

Wow, use of my photograph again without even knowing. Well, I might not have made any money photographing the election, but it would appear that my images were the most widely used and seen.

I suppose I can feel good about that. :-)

Onnik Krikorian said...

BTW: Some of the images on the political prisoner posters the opposition have are mine as well -- lifted off my web site. Another example of the power of the Internet?

artmika said...

True, I do not know any other photographer whose images on recent events in Armenia used as widely as yours. Yours were the most powerful ones.

Ani said...

So...if I understand this right, the Council of Europe used your photo without notifying or paying you but including copyright credit. This mostly meets the CoE standards for use of Onnik Krikorian's photography and is better than the last Internet site usage--progress is being made! ;)

Seriously, you took really great photographs, but they are also free for swiping by whoever wants to. This has increased awareness of your talent and spread your name, but now you're going to have to choose between fame and fortune (okay, payment), so if you want to get paid, I think you're going to have to put watermarks on and set up a purchasing store like other photographers do, no?

Onnik Krikorian said...

Hi Anna, well, true enough. Hopefully people will recognize they like my images and commission me to do more, but this place is so connection-orientated, let's see.

It's incredibly hard to break through here without having friends in various organizations and as with the economy, such areas are monopolized.

Basically, people outside of Armenia like my work and commission, but inside it's still done through connections. This is what I'm now fighting against and trying to overcome.

me said...

Another bureaucrat trying to justify his existence. Yippee. Do they realize they hurt more than they help, and do they even care?

Onnik, I'm sure even if you try without connections, yes, even in photography, you'd come across the "էդ գործը անող կա" problem so many of us face.

Look on the bright side, at least CoE gave you credit, I know you had some problems with that with HYD and I believe LTP's campaign. At any rate, good luck to you, and keep up the good work.