Armenia: Commissioner Hammarberg releases his findings on the investigation of March events
Strasbourg, 29.09.2008 – “There is an urgent need to reach a satisfactory solution for prisoners and to hold accountable those responsible for the March events.” With this main message, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, published today his summary of findings on a visit to Armenia carried out last 13-15 July to weigh the progress made in investigating the violent events which ensued following the demonstrations after the Presidential election.
“The situation of persons deprived of their liberty continues to be a source of serious concern” said the Commissioner. “Questions persist as to the very nature of the criminal charges and the intent of the investigations carried out.” Commissioner Hammarberg also regretted that prosecution cases against 19 persons were based solely on police testimony.
The Commissioner was particularly concerned about the seven persons remaining in preliminary detention, including prominent opposition representatives. “It is unacceptable to continue to hold in detention or to convict – even to non-custodial sentences – anyone solely because of their political beliefs or non-violent activities.”
Furthermore, the Commissioner focused on the setting up of a national commission of inquiry. While welcoming the proactive approach of the Government in this regard, he recommended that continued efforts be made, in tandem with international expert advice, and through a broad and fully inclusive consultation process. “The establishment of a group of experts tasked with carrying out a comprehensive, independent, impartial, transparent inquiry, which would be perceived as credible by the whole population of Armenia, appears to be within reach. I hope that this opportunity will be recognised and will continue to meet with a constructive response by all the relevant actors.”
The summary of findings of Hammarberg's special mission to Armenia (13-15 July 2008) is available on the Commissioner’s website.