More protests call for release of kin held after Nagorno-Karabakh war
Protesters call for release of their kin from Azerbaijan
On 8th August 2022, a protest took place in Yerevan. The demonstrators, who are parents of Armenians detained by the Azerbaijani authorities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, asked both the Armenian authorities and the international community to intervene and secure the release of Armenians who were detained by the Azerbaijani military during the conflict in the region. The protesters also demanded a meeting with Prime Minister Nikol Pashynian who had failed to reach out to them. The detainees’ parents continued the protest overnight in front of the government building.
Separately, refugees from the Nagorno-Karabakh region held a protest on 9th August in front of the US Embassy in Yerevan, calling for security for the Karabakh Armenians and a resumption of negotiations to restore the 1994 status quo for Nagorno-Karabakh.
The following day, on 10th August 2022, another protest was held in front of the Ministry of Defence building by parents of soldiers who died in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. News.am reported that they demanded a meeting with the commander of the 4th Battalion of the 5th Defence District of Martakert, whom they blame for the deaths of the soldiers. This was the second protest by the group, who had previously demonstrated to ask for answers about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their relatives.
Grave insult decriminalised
On 1st July 2022, amendments to the Criminal Code entered into force. In a positive development, amendments proposed in 2021 to introduce offences for serious insult were not included in the new provisions. These amendments, which were criticised by civil society for infringing on freedom of expression, were omitted from the criminal code following inter-agency consultations led by the Prime Minister which arrived at a consensus to regulate insult through civil law.
Through his Facebook page, Minister of Justice Karen Andreasyan said:
“In our agenda of further democratisation, even the legitimate restriction of freedom of speech should be implemented without the tools of criminal prosecution to the possible extent. The executive did not find it expedient to cover grave insult in the new Criminal Code, preferring the existing civil liability regulations.”
Draft National Strategy for Combating Disinformation presented for discussion
On 7th July 2022, the Public Relations and Information Centre of the RA Prime Minister's Office and the Freedom of Information Centre, with the support of the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), presented and discussed the Draft of National Strategy for Combating Disinformation in Armenia.
The document defines the strategy for combating disinformation in the country and also defines the roles of authorities, civil society and media organisations.
Transgender woman attacked in Yerevan
On 1st August 2022, a video of a transgender woman being attacked circulated on several social media platforms. According to OC-Media, the attack was carried out by Vahe Yeghiazaryan, a member of the Army of Light, a far-right religious group. He was seen cursing at and attacking a trans woman in Yerevan.
The Right Side – an NGO supporting trans people in Armenia, filed a complaint against the attacker. The police also launched investigations into the attack.