Suspicion of citizen action pervades the authorities’ approach to civil society in Armenia.read more
According to media reports, in October 2018 a Urtsadzor community members hold a protest in front of the government building against the appointment of the acting head of the community after the resignation of the previous head, Rafik Andreasya.
Photo: Citizens hold protest against release of MP Manvel Grigoryan outside Prosecutor General's Office https://t.co/HkRizHwpKx— Armenpress News Eng (@armenpress) December 24, 2018
According to media reports, in October 2018 Urtsadzor community members held a protest in front of the government building against the appointment of the acting head of the community, Gevorg Avetisyan, after the resignation of the previous head, Rafik Andreasya. Andreasya's supporters claimed that the interim appointment was not done properly as the governor is not allowed to order an elected leader to resign and to later appoint a close person as interim.
In December 2018, people in Armenia took to the streets to denounce a court decision releasing retired general Manvel Grigoryan on bail. Grigoryan was arrested in June 2018 and is currently on trial charged with illegal possession of firearms and grand theft. The court released him from detention, arguing that he is suffering from some health issues.
On 26th December 2018 Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, a former journalist, met with several media representatives. During the meeting, the Prime Minister said the executive's priority is to provide conditions for the development of independent media and to support freedom of speech. Moreover, Pashinyan stated that:
"The Government of the Republic of Armenia will spare no efforts for protecting and developing freedom of speech and the press, and of course, we expect an effective cooperation with media representatives.”
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.
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.
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.