The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders

Armenia: Authorities shall not keep people behind bars – states the CoE Secretary General
The Council of Europe (CoE) is negative to the fact that Armenia keeps people in prison for political reasons. This was stated by Torbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, at a press conference on October 21 in Yerevan on the outcomes of the CE's Forum "In the Name of Democracy".

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on the eve of the forum Armenia rights defenders sent a letter to Mr Jagland, where activists of several organizations draw his attention to systematic human rights violations in their country.

"We know that you have problems," Torbjorn Jagland said after the forum. "The CE is closely following the developments in Armenia after 2008 events; and if necessary we express our concerns. This is why Armenia is still under monitoring. We periodically raise these issues with the authorities of Armenia. People shall not be kept in detention because of their political views; it is against the European Convention," he recalled that there is the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which can be approached, if necessary.

Along with that, Mr Jagland has noted that the CE has no right to interfere with countries' home affairs: "If we take the right to interfere in your internal problems, we'll put ourselves in a very difficult situation. This should be solved within your domestic institutions."

"I know about the problem of the freedom of speech, and, in particular, in electronic media in Armenia," he said. "We are watching this and raise this issue during our meetings with government officials and Armenian leadership. The CE possesses certain mechanisms for translating the relevant conventions, in which Armenia is also a party, into life."

According to Secretary General, establishment of democracy is a long process. "We want a dialogue to start with the civil society; it's better than going out into the streets. I think Armenia is moving along this road."

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