Monitoring of peaceful assemblies: report

Helsinki Committee of Armenia has published a report on the monitoring of peaceful assemblies for the period of July 2016 to 30 June 2017.

There were numerous instances of unlawful interference in and violence against the assemblies organized in Yerevan and Gyumri from 17 July through 4 August 2016. Provisions of the RoA Law on Freedom of Assemblies as well as the established procedure for interference in assemblies were not complied with. Unjustified and unlawful interference with the course of assemblies took place. Numerous civic activists were subjected to persecution because they exercised their right to freedom of assembly.

Prohibition to conduct assemblies and unjustified restrictions on assemblies’ venues by the Police were orchestrated. Such restrictions can be imposed only in cases defined and through the procedure established by the RoA Law on the legal regime of the state of emergency. However, in the above-mentioned period of time the state of emergency was not declared in any part of the Republic of Armenia. Violence and threats against reporters not only caused personal physical and moral harm but also jeopardized coverage of peaceful assemblies and impeded the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly by assembly participants. Many citizens were forcibly taken to and were held for hours without any grounds in police departments as well as in the barracks of the police force.

Individuals who were not rally participants as well as assembly participants’ family members were subjected to pressure and violence. Even though some policemen who had committed violations during the July 2016 events were subjected to disciplinary sanctions, nevertheless, not a single serviceman of law-enforcement agencies or any other individual has so far been criminally prosecuted. As was the case in the previous reporting period, the number of policemen performing their duties in assembly venues was disproportionally large.

Also present again were plainclothes policemen who in contrast to earlier periods of time did not interfere in the course of the assemblies and did not detain assembly participants. Those police units that constantly perform their duties at peaceful assemblies did not have insignia on their uniforms, which could make their identification difficult when necessary. Groundless detentions of participants of peaceful assemblies aimed to restrict persons’ participation in a given assembly or in future assemblies or to prevent planned assemblies from taking place.

Find the whole report here