Human Rights Committee concerned about women's rights in Armenia

Published on 10 Nov 2021, 03:43 PM

The Human Rights Committee – 133rd Session – October 2021

On the 14th and 15th of October 2021, Armenia has been reviewed for the third time by the Human Rights Committee on the implementation of the ICCPR. The delegation of Armenia has joined the session online from its capital and has started the session by outlining its priority in preventing and combating racism, discrimination and hate speech, as well as underlining its strong support of the universality of human rights.

The Committee welcomed, among others, the adoption of the amendments to the Constitution in 2015 and to the Criminal Code in 2021, the Strategic Plan for the Protection of the Rights of the Child for 2017-2021, the Strategy of Judicial and Legal Reforms for 2019-2023 and its Action Plan for 2019-2020, and the State party’s ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

Armenia does not have any concrete plans to ratify the Istanbul Convention

After the initial overview presented by Armenia, where the State party had the opportunity to note their most recent accomplishments, the Committee members were given the opportunity to ask the delegation of Armenia questions. One such question was posed by Mr José Manuel Santos Pais, who questioned what measures have been taken to address the issue of violence against women, the low level of reporting and of investigation, prosecuion and conviction of perpetrators of violence against women, and asked whether the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by Armenia is already under way.

The delegation of Armenia responded that they are not in the position to provide any information on the timeline of the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, but have nevertheless added that the ratification issue is listed in the governments agenda and will be fulfilled in the future. The delegation also drew the attention of the Committee to the recent developments in the Council of Europe and the many withdrawls of the ratification of the latter Convention and have stressed that such events have impacted the public opinion in Armenia.

Moreover, regarding the issue on domestic violence against women, Armenia has in its new Criminal Code added a section on violence against women and made sure it covered the whole aspect of internationally recognized perpetrators, so as to not only include registered marriages but also close relatives. In addition it also adopted the Law on the prevention of violence within the family, protection of victims of violence within the family and restoration of peace in the family, created a hotline to lodge complaints and set up a mobile responding system for urgent interventions.

The position of asylum seekers upon the entry into Armenia remains uncertain

The Committee welcomed the efforts of Armenia to continue strenghtening asylum and migrations systems, yet it remained concerned that asylum-seekers continue to be detained for illegal entry and presence in Armenia and that the Criminal Code does not provide sufficient safeguards against refoulement in cases of extradition. In particular, the Committee member Mr Duncan Muhumuza Laki addressed the question to the delegation regarding the illegal entry of aliens into Armenia and has inquired about their treatment.

The delegation, however, responded that pursuant to their Criminal Code illegal crossing of the border does not include asylum seekers and that all foreigners crossing borders without authorization of entry that intend to apply for asylum cannot be held criminally liable. The latter provisions were further ammended in 2021 to be brought in compliance with the Geneva Convention. Yet, Armenia did not provide any concrete information on the detentions of the asylum seekers or any statistics on the granted asylum status.

Recommendations of the Human Rights Committee

Concluding Observations on Armenia's 3rd periodic report were released on November 11 2021. The State party is requested to provide, by 5 November 2023, information on the implementation of the following recommendations:

Violence against women

  • Revise the Law on domestic violence to ensure a victim-centred approach, which guarantees access to immediate means of redress and protection;
  • Establish an effective mechanism to encourage the reporting of cases of violence against women and by intensifying efforts to address social stigmatization of victims;
  • Ensure that all cases of violence against women are promptly and thoroughly investigated, that perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, are punished with appropriate sanctions, and that victims have access to effective remedies and means of protection, including sufficient, safe and adequately funded shelters and suitable medical, psychosocial, legal and rehabilitative support services throughout the country, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond;
  • Consider ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. 

Right of peaceful assembly and excessive use of force

  • Strengthen its efforts to ensure that all law enforcement officers found responsible for excessive use of force during the March 2008, June 2015, July 2016 and April 2018 events, including those with command responsibility, are held accountable and appropriately sanctioned, and that all the victims of these acts receive adequate compensation and rehabilitation;
  • Review the amendments to the Law on freedom of assemblies to bring it into conformity with article 21 of the Covenant;
  • Refrain from undue interference with assembly participants and reduce police presence at peaceful demonstrations;
  • Ensure that impartial and thorough investigations are undertaken without delay by the public prosecutor’s office into all allegations of the excessive use of force and arbitrary arrest and detention by State agents at protests, and ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted and, if found guilty, that they are punished and that the victims have access to adequate remedies;
  • Ensure that domestic laws and regulations on the use of force are in full conformity with the Basic Principles on the use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the United Nations Human Rights Guidance on the Use of Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement, that all law enforcement officers receive systematic training on the use of force, especially in the context of demonstrations, and the employment of non-violent means and crowd control, and that the principles of necessity and proportionality are strictly adhered to in practice during the policing of demonstrations. 

Participation in public affairs

  • Bring electoral regulations and practices into full compliance with the Covenant, including its article 25, inter alia by:

(a) Ensuring that the mandatory disclosure of campaign financing is fully respected to improve transparency and equal conditions for the campaign;

(b) Revising the limitations on the right to stand for presidential and legislative elections, with a view to ensuring their compatibility with the Covenant;  

(c) Ensuring full accessibility of polling stations for persons with disabilities. 

Here you can find all the recommendations given by the Committee in the Concluding Observations.

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