Point of View

Human Rights in Armenia 2012: Army and Electoral Right

08.01.2013

The death roll  in the army does not decline in circumstances of cease -fire

“Nothing changes in the army system. We ring the bell, provide information...changes are only imitated but in reality everything stays as it was, there are no systemic changes, no legislative changes”, says Arthur Sakunts, President of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor branch (HCAV), summarizing the situation with human rights in the army.

As he states, the current legal mechanisms do not provide for proper civil control over the RA army.

According to official statistics, in 2012 the death roll in the army increased in comparison to the previous year. In 2010, 44 deaths were registered as a result of 25 incidents, in 2011, there were 39 deaths as a result of 26 incidents, and in 2012 there were 46 cases of death.

According to HCAV statistics, soldiers' death cases increased because of medical reasons. Also, there are many cases when soldiers are demobilized  prior to the end of term for serious medical reasons. During the last year, 24 persons applied to HCAV concerning violations of rights of draftees or military servants, of which 16 cases related to health issues.

“Now we still receive alerts from parents, who are not satisfied with the conclusions of medical commissions or drafting commission. Moreover, there is an impression that only one approach is practiced: by any means consider all drafters fit for the army service and draft them”, says Arthur Sakunts.

Ombudsman Karen Andreasyan expressed his concern regarding the issue of administrative arrests of military servants without any administrative investigation of cases.

Let us mention that if a draft law in circulation “Administrative Charter of RA Army” is adopted, then arrest cannot be practiced as punishment for military servants. The draft law was elaborated by the Ministry of Defense and received approval of the RA Government.

Another legal initiative of the Ministry of Defense in 2012 was  draft amendments to the law “On alternative service”, which is in the phase of discussion. 

In opinion of Zhanna Alexanyan, President of “Journalists for Human Rights” NGO, “the most serious problem in the army is still the issue of losses”. “Maybe the Ministry of Defense tries to make some steps in direction of solving the issue, I am inclined to be optimist, but I was greatly disappointed with the recent interview with the Minister of Defense. It appears, that 46 death cases registered in the army are not considered by them as something which spreads shadow over successes in the army. Then it can be concluded that human lives for the Ministry of Defense are of secondary importance”, says Zhanna Alexanyan.

Protection of electoral rights

On May 6, 2012 in Armenia the elections to the National Assembly and local government elections took place. 

As a result of parliamentary elections, 6 political parties or alliances entered the parliament and shared 90 parliamentary mandates, and through majoritarian lists, 41 parliament members were elected, mostly members of the Armenian Republican Party.

After the parliamentary elections, on May18, 2012 the Armenian National Congress (ANM) applied to the Constitutional Court with a request to consider the results of elections through the party lists as void. However, the Constitutional Court rejected the application of ANM, considering it groundless.

Civil Society Institute NGO in cooperation with the American Bar Association within the framework of implemented program “Legal Initiative: Elections 2012” contributed to restoration of violated electoral rights. On the day of election, 30 legal ambulance cars, consisting of lawyers, journalists and observers, visited more than 420 various precincts throughout the whole territory of the Republic of Armenia. Legal advice was provided to more than 12 calls received on the hot line 080-080-804, regarding violation of electoral rights.

Other non-governmental organizations also carried out observation missions. They registered that electoral process was heavily impacted by electoral bribes, abuse of the state resources and other illegal technologies.

Avetik Ishkhanyan, President of Armenian Helsinki Committee, summarizing the results of their observation mission, concluded that during these parliamentary elections old techniques of violation, such as violence, ballot stuffing and other, were not used, but a new 'civil' electoral violation was used, that is 'stuffing of people'.

“A big groups of people, with different registry, voted several times, which impacted on the numbers”, he said Mr Ishkhanyan.

The “Transparency International Anti-corruption Centre” calculated and analyzed the official electoral results on a specialized computer program and came to a conclusion that some people voted with 'reactive speed'. They divided electoral hours by the official number of voters and it resulted in figures that at some precinct station, voters had only 30 seconds to vote.

Only 15 criminal cases were instituted on the basis of information and mass media publications about the violations during the electoral campaign and on the Election Day.  The office of the General Prosecutor rejected to launch criminal cases on more than 200 calls received by them.

According to NGOs which monitored elections, the law enforcement agencies proved inactive in  prevention of violations of law and bringing to responsibility those who were engaged in these violations. Nevertheless, several local and international organizations stated that these elections were one step forward in comparison to previous national elections.

Gayane Arakelyan  

Source www.hra.am