CIVICUS

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Armenia

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Last updated on 06.12.2018 at 11:28

Armenia-Overview

Suspicion of citizen action pervades the authorities’ approach to civil society in Armenia.

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Thousands protest to demand early parliamentary elections

Thousands protest to demand early parliamentary elections

On 2nd October 2018 Armenians took to the streets and gathered outside the parliament building to reject a legislative initiative that would make it difficult for the new government to "disband the legislature and call new elections".

Peaceful Assembly

On 2nd October 2018 Armenians took to the streets and gathered outside the parliament building to reject a legislative initiative that would make it difficult for the new government to "disband the legislature and call new elections". Prime Minister Pashinian has been calling for Parliamentarian elections to be held in early December 2018 as "the composition of parliament did not reflect the country's political reality".  

“Holding early parliamentary elections was one of the conditions of our velvet revolution and was included in the government program, which was approved by the parliament.” Pashinyan claimed during the protest.

Expression

In October 2018, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, visited Armenia to assess the situation of freedom of expression in the country. The Representative encouraged the authorities "to prioritise the safety of journalists and to act against any threats and intimidation media workers may face". He also highlighted the need for certain reforms to guarantee the "independence and accountability" of public service media and of the National Commission on Television and Radio. 

Association

As reported on the CIVICUS Monitor in April 2018, Armenia experienced some of its largest protests since its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The massive demonstrations led to a peaceful transition of power. Months after, civil society have been debating the results of the revolution as well as the challenges ahead. In one of such meetings, on 10th September 2018, civil society representatives discussed some of the positives aspects of the transition, highlighting for example, how people in the country feel more empowered to take to the streets and demand changes. “It is basic, but very important," said Haykuhi Harutyunyan of Protection without Borders

Regarding the challenges, the situation remains complex as the new government "inherited the old institutions and policies serving interests of narrow group of oligarchs". 

Association in Armenia

Despite the presence of 5,200 civil society organisations registered with the Ministry of Justice, the laws governing the creation and operation of CSOs are cumbersome and result in an overly regulated environment for civil society.

Despite the presence of 5,200 civil society organisations registered with the Ministry of Justice, the laws governing the creation and operation of CSOs are cumbersome and result in an overly regulated environment for civil society. Studies estimate that only 15 – 20% of registered CSOs are active and there is growing concern over the prevalence of government-driven corruption in the sector. Unregistered CSOs do not enjoy the same levels of legal protection and are unable to process financial transactions to support their activities. Moreover, the Law on Public Organisations and Law on Foundations (2001) prevent unregistered entities from sharing information about their activities or working with international civil society groups.


Peaceful Assembly in Armenia

The Armenian government has a well-documented record of interfering with protests and public gatherings.

The Armenian government has a well-documented record of interfering with protests and public gatherings. Protests during the “electric Yerevan” movement resulted in over 200 arrests and reports of violence by police. Armenian human rights groups have highlighted the misuse of the penal code to intimidate protesters and prevent protests deemed unfavourable by the government. In particular, pro-democracy protests have borne the brunt of politically motivated arrests, detentions and torture.


Expression in Armenia

Armenia’s media and news houses are not formally regulated, but informal influence by the government impedes journalistic freedom.

Armenia’s media and news houses are not formally regulated, but informal influence by the government impedes journalistic freedom. Journalists covering protests and gatherings are particular targets of violence and intimidation. In 2015, there were 19 documented cases of violence against journalists, with no one held responsible. With 46% of the Armenian population having access to the internet, online news outlets have begun to flourish. For the most part, bloggers and online journalists are able to operate free from coercion or fear of reprisals. Discrimination against LGBTI communities remains a serious concern in Armenia, with inadequate anti-discrimination laws and frequent reports of hate speech.