Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Armenia: US State Department reports on government's poor human rights record, violence against women and societal harrassment of homosexuals

The US State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor released its Advancing Freedom and Democracy Reports 2008 on 27 May which reflects recent presidential elections in Armenia as well as other democracy and human rights related issues in our country:

"Armenia is a constitutional republic with a popularly elected president and a unicameral legislature (National Assembly). The February 2008 presidential elections were significantly flawed. Problems included favorable treatment of the government's candidate, instances of ballot stuffing, vote-buying, multiple voting, voter intimidation, violence against opposition commission members and proxies, and suspiciously high turnout figures. On March 1, 2008, the government imposed a state of emergency and used force to disperse large crowds of protesters, restricting media freedoms and the right of assembly and arresting scores of protesters. The clashes between protesters and security services resulted in the deaths of at least 10 people. The state of emergency was lifted March 20, 2008, but restrictions on civil liberties remain in force due to a strict new law on public gatherings, pressure on opposition media, and continuing arrests and intimidation of government opponents. The government's human rights record remained poor. Citizens were not able to freely change their government; authorities beat pretrial detainees; the National Security Service and the national police force acted with impunity; authorities engaged in arbitrary arrest and detention; courts remained subject to political pressure from the executive branch; prison conditions were cramped and unhealthy, although slowly improving; and authorities imposed restrictions on citizens' privacy, freedom of press, and freedom of assembly. Journalists continued to practice self‑censorship, and the government and laws restricted religious freedom. Violence against women remained a problem, as well as trafficking in persons, discrimination against persons with disabilities, and societal harassment of homosexuals. There were reports of forced labor."

Full report is available here

This report echoes US State Department annual Human Rights Report for 2007 released in March 2008 which says the Armenian government didn't enforce laws against violence against women, human trafficking and harassment of homosexuals; and more specifically details discrimination against gay Armenians.

*/emphasis mine/

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