Last Friday, Souhayr Belhassen, President of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Alexandra Koulaeva, FIDH Central Asia and Eastern Europe Desk Director, had a meeting with the RA Minister of Justice Gevorg Danielyan.
At the meeting, several questions were discussed in the framework of the preparations of the 37th Congress of FIDH titled "Justice, New Challenges" to be held in Yerevan on April 6-8, 2010. FIDH representatives called attention of the Minister of Justice to the 10 people killed in March 1, 2008 events, mentioning that until now no effective investigation has been conducted on any of these cases. Also, cases of Nikol Pashinyan and Sasha Davtyan were presented to the Minister.
"At the end of the meeting I said that I would like to visit Sasha Davtyan and Nikol Pashinyan in prison, for my first goal is to be with victims of human rights violations", said Souhayr Belhassen.
FIDH talked with the Minister about the case of Sasha Davtyan, who was partly discharged by the Court of First Instance of the Aragatsotn marz last December. "This case needs special attention, because the facts of ill-treatment applied with the aim to receive evidence were recognized by the court and the court did not make a decision in favour of the prosecutor's office. It is obvious that the defendant and the victims were treated badly", said Ms. Belhassen, who asked the Minister to present these facts also to the General Prosecutor.
"In this case the facts are obvious and objective investigation of the case is necessary. Those guilty need to be held responsible. Until this reality is not taken into consideration, it is untimely to talk about justice in theory", is convinced the prominent human rights defender.
In the same context the case of Gulyan was mentioned once again, as this case was followed by the FIDH and the Civil Society Institute right after his death.
"The family of Gulyan today had another failure in the court, and the guilty ones are still unpunished. We said to the Minister that here we also have a case of impunity, which serves as influential "message" not only for this but also similar cases. We will come back to these cases again and again", promised Ms. Belhassen.
Ms. Belhassen called the attention of the Minister to the case of Nikol Pashinyan who was deprived of the amnesty opportunity, although the authorities allegedly promised it. The human rights defender during the meeting specifically emphasized that regardless the type of the crime a person is accused with he has a right to serious and objective investigation of his case. "The Minister replied that Pashinyan is charged with a serious crime and that the punishment does not seem excessive to him, thus he made us understand that the amnesty may apply and new development of the case is still possible", said Ms. Belhassen.
A question of the Commission of Early Conditional Release was also discussed with the Minister, and the FIDH presented its concerns on the Commission's functioning and composition. The Minister listened to the arguments about the activities of the commission and mentioned that a progress needs to be made in this case and that they work in this direction. The Minister also pointed out that the establishment of the commission is a step forward, because such decisions were previously made by the courts, which created corruption risks.
"He accepted one reality, which is that the principle of impossibility to appeal the decisions of the commission create difficult situation and this point needs to be revised", Ms Belhassen presented the opinion of the Minister.
In opinion of the human rights defender, the meeting with the Minister was open and productive: "It is natural that our opinions regarding some cases differ. However, we are raising these issues prior to the Congress, because at the Congress the Justice issues should be discussed in the decent atmosphere and the efforts of the State, main warrant of the respect of human rights on the country, should be visible".
Once again the FIDH President came back to the topic of the international congress on human rights to be held on April 6-8. "Of course, holding such a congress can be interpreted in different ways, but it is, at the first place, the congress of human rights defenders, a means for them to gather and talk about defence of human rights.
It is very important for us that the Government makes a "gesture" with its participation. However, this does not mean that we are on the side of the government or the opposition. This is not a political congress, and its participants will talk about universal topics.
The civil society in Armenia often asks us a question: "Are you with the government or the opposition?" We are human rights defending organization, and our aim is to work for a greater justice in the world.
Our invitation to the President of Armenia indicates that we wish to serve as a bridge between civil society, government and justice institutions. The Forum will be the occasion for debates, exchanges of experience of the key actors of the international Justice and for the analyses on various themes related to the right to an effective remedy before an independent jurisdiction, at national level as well as accessing regional and international justice systems. A special focus will be given to the new challenges to build on FIDH and its member organisations' expertise and impact on future strategies of action.