Annual Report: Armenia 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Armenia 2010

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  • The prosecution in the case of the shooting of Mikael Danielian, a human rights activist, was discontinued in May on the grounds that the perpetrator had allegedly acted in self-defence. In May 2008, Mikael Danielian was shot at point-blank range with a pneumatic gun by a former leader of the pro-government Armenian Progressive Party. Human rights groups voiced concern that key witness statements had not been considered by the prosecution. Mikael Danielian lodged an appeal against this decision, but no decision was made on his appeal by the end of the year.

Freedom of expression

  • On 30 April, Argishti Kiviryan, a lawyer and journalist, was severely beaten by a group of unidentified men outside his home in Yerevan. The attackers reportedly beat him with sticks and attempted to shoot him. The OSCE Representative for Media Freedom called on the authorities to investigate the attack and expressed concern about the lack of investigations into violent attacks against journalists, contributing to a climate of impunity. In July, two suspects were detained. The investigation was ongoing at the end of the year.

Discrimination – Jehovah's Witnesses

Alternative civilian service to conscription continued to be under the control of the military. Conscientious objectors had to wear military uniform, were disciplined by the Military Prosecutor's office and were forbidden to hold prayer meetings. As of 1 November, 71 Jehovah's Witnesses were serving prison sentences of 24 to 36 months for refusing to perform military service on grounds of conscience.

In October, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that there had not been a violation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion when Vahan Bayatyan was sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment for his refusal to perform military service on religious grounds. The Court held that "the right of conscientious objection was not guaranteed by any article of the Convention". In a dissenting opinion, one of the Court judges stated that the judgement failed to reflect the almost universal acceptance that the right to conscientious objection is fundamental to the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Vahan Bayatyan is currently appealing to the Grand Chamber against this ruling.