On July 31,
an online discussion on “The freedom of assembly in the condition of the State
of Emergency declared due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic” was
organized within collaboration of the Human Rights Defender and a number of
opening speech the Human Rights Defender of Armenia Mr. Arman Tatoyan noted
that, during the State of Emergency, the legal obligation of the state
increases as every restriction should have a legitimate aim, be necessary, and
proportionate to a specific situation: in this case, the restrictions should
contribute to the coronavirus prevention.
justifications of human rights restrictions should not have the same scope as
in the initial period of the State of Emergency. In other words, the legal obligation
of the state to justify human rights restrictions increases as long as the
State of Emergency extends.
Tatoyan informed that “despite that it is consistently mentioned that the prohibition
of the freedom of assembly is provided under the Commandant’s decision, it is in
fact provided under a Government decision. Our visits to the Police show that in
every case, the participants of demonstrations are removed from the location of
demonstrations by being subjected to administrative detention for the offence
of “failure to obey the lawful order of a police officer”. In its turn, current
legislation results in legal difficulties for the Police. It appears that due
to imprecise regulation, the Police became the “legal victim” in the absence of
legal guidelines for precise activities”.
of the monitoring of the Human Rights Defender’s Office have shown that despite
the absolute prohibition of demonstrations, in practice the Police in a number
of cases removes the participants of demonstrations from the location of
demonstrations, while in other cases it does not act in that manner.
Chairman of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia Mr. Avetik Ishkhanyan, the Program
Director of the Union of Informed Citizens Mr. Daniel Ioannisian, human rights
defender Ms. Zara Hovhannisyan, co-founder of Path of Law NGO Mr. Ruben
Melikyan, the Executive Director of the Foundation Against Violation of Law
NGO, the first Human Rights Defender Ms. Larisa Alaverdyan, President of
Yerevan Press Club Mr. Boris Navasardian, the Director of Civil Society
Institute Armenia NGO Mr. Artak Kirakosyan, the Executive Director of Unison
NGO Mr. Armen Alaverdyan, the Project Officer
at “Agate” Rights Defense Center For Women With Disabilities NGO Ms.
Gayane Grigoryan and representatives of Eurasia Partnership Foundation Ms.
Tatevik Gharibyan and Mr. Nikolay Hovhannisyan took part in the discussion. Adviser to the Human Rights Defender
Mr. Sergey Ghazinyan and Head of Research and Educational Center of the
Defender’s office Ms. Nina Pirumyan also attended the discussion.
participants of the discussion highlighted the importance of carrying out effective
activities in preventing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but also noted
that, at the same time, the restriction on the freedom of assembly should not
be absolute. In addition, practice shows that it is impossible to ensure the absolute
prohibition of the freedom of assembly, and this results in an unjustified
differentiation, thus causing difficulties both for the people and the Police.
participants of the discussion agreed to summarize the recommendations and send
them to competent state bodies.