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   25.09.2018

The Human Rights Ombudsman of Artsakh published a special report on the hatred policy towards Armenians in Azerbaijan

At a press conference on September 25, 2018, the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Artsakh Ruben Melikyan published a special report on  "Armenophobia in Azerbaijan: Organized Hate Speech and Animosity towards Armenians," which, comparing the facts with the international law, introduces the manifestations of anti-Armenian policy in Azerbaijan and their impact on Armenians.

The Ombudsman firstly mentioned that, as a result of the fact-finding activity launched immediately after the 2016 April war, a number of reports have been published, which reveal the atrocities and violations of international law by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces against Armenian servicemen and civilians. By publishing the report the Ombudsman summarized the results of the fact-findings, presenting the deep causes of the atrocities.

R. Melikyan stressed three key messages of the new special report:

1. The Armenian society is not fully aware of the level of Armenophobia in Azerbaijan. It is organized, which usually does not remain at the level of hatred, and has far more serious consequences. The Ombudsman emphasized the need to become more fully informed about Armenophobia phenomenon.

2. The report contains important messages addressed to the international community. It is essential that the objective information available to the international community should be in understandable language.

3. The Armenian society should understand that we should not allow such hatreds on the Armenian side. In essence, the expressions of hate speech are unacceptable in response to the Azerbaijani hatred.

“One of the well-known examples of armenophobia is the case when the Ombudsman of the Republic of Azerbaijan Elmira Suleymanova expressed gratitude to the President of Azerbaijan for the efforts in extradition and pardoning of criminal Ramil Safarov.Notably, the Ombudsman reportedly stated  in 2004: “Safarov must become an example of patriotism for the Azerbaijani youth”, - said Ruben Meliqyan.

Note: Ramil Safarov was an officer of the Azerbaijani army who was convicted of the 2004 murder of Armenian army Lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan. During a NATO-sponsored training seminar in Budapest, Safarov broke into Margaryan`s dormitory room at night and axed him to death while he was asleep.

The report was developed with the participation of three experts - Angela Elibegova, Levon Gevorgyan and Yeghishe Kirakosyan - in cooperation with Tufenkian Charity Foundation.

Executive Director of the Fundation Raffi Dudaklian said at the press conference that Armenophobia is organized and continuous in Azerbaijan, so it is necessary to create a stable monitoring mechanism that will allow to follow the developments and reveal the manifestations of the anti-Armenian hatred in the Azerbaijani society.

Expert Angela Elibegova emphasized that the Armenophobic messages are given to the Azerbaijani society in different ways and through different channels. According to Elibegova, one of the most serious examples of Armenophobia is the use of psychological violence against their own children, who from childhood are taught to hate Armenians through various games, fairy tales and textbooks. According to the expert, the Azerbaijani authorities are not going to solve the issue, and every day we witness examples of Armenophobia in the Azerbaijani press, public life and politics.

“When in September 2014 a storm pulled off numerous trees in Baku and caused serious damages to the population, the residents of Baku complained to Milli.az of the public services’ work. In response, the General Engineer of the Communal Residential Union of Khatai district Sahin Babayev  said “the trees that are now falling on our head were planted by Armenians.” “Planting those trees back then, they created this problem for us; the pine-trees grow up, while the stems and the roots of the trees do not develop,” he said in an attempt to defend himself,” – said the expert.

Yeghishe Kirakosyan presented the legal part of the report, noting that the fight against racial discrimination is an important part of the international law.

In his words, the commitments that exist in the fight against racial discrimination originate from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and then more specifically – human rights treaties.

Kirakosyan outlined two legal aspects of the report,

1. Implementation of direct racial discrimination by the Government of Azerbaijan,

2. Implementation of anti-Armenian propaganda in the non-governmental sector.

“Azerbaijani official sources and media frequently publish  anti-Armenian statements made by private individuals and politicians in their addresses to the President of Azerbaijan. Since those letters are published in the official website of the President of Azerbaijan, it is fully attributed to the head of that country,” stressed Kirakosyan.

The basic legal document which the report is based on is the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) (December 21, 1965,) and the Republic of Azerbaijan is a member of that Convention.
   21.07.2018

The Human Rights Defender’s staff of the Republic of Artsakh continues to focus on the issues related to the guarantee of the constitutional right to freedom of assembly underscoring the adoption of proper legislation and establishment of a proper law-enforcement practice.

The right to freedom of assembly of the Republic of Artsakh entered into force on July 12 and sufficient knowledge, maintenance and application of its requirements are of primary importance to all parties involved (local self-governing bodies, police, assembly (heads), bailiffs, etc.).  

Analyzing the existing experience, the Ombudsman presents a number of considerations aimed at establishing a proper legal practice in the field of the freedom of assembly:

1.Citizens participating in an assembly must realize that it is the assembly organizer-head who decides the process of the assembly, including whether to give or not to give a vote to a citizen.

2.The assembly organizer (head) and the authorized police representatives must cooperate, inter alia, to ensure proper realization of police function to remove citizens from the place of assembly grossly violating the normal course of the assembly. This is especially important in terms of formulating a common and predictable practice of assessing the “gross” nature of the violation.

3.Bailiffs designated by the assembly organizer (head) shall bear signs defined by law and shall be explained their rights and obligations. Cooperation between the organizer (head) of the assembly and police is also desirable in this regard.

4.Obviously offensive calls and statements made in the course of the assembly are unacceptable and seriously endanger the culture of respect for human rights.  The abuse of human rights by citizens, as well as human rights violations by officials is also dangerous from the point of view of the culture of respect for human rights.

   02.07.2018

At the invitation of Mr. A.Tovmasyan, Deputy, Chairperson of the Interim Committee for the investigation of the incident that took place on June 28 at the National Assembly of the Republic of Artsakh, the AR Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan today participated in the session of the Committee, expressed his positions on the issue from the viewpoint of human rights culture, and answered the questions of the Committee’s members addressed to the clarification of these positions.  

   20.06.2018

RA Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan’s address to the civil society subjects in the Republic of Armenia

Over the years an unfair and unlawful situation has emerged when the international community makes almost no contribution to ensure human rights guarantees, civil society reinforcement, and the rule of law in Artsakh due to purely political reasons. Human rights are being sacrificed to political considerations by alleged propagandists and distributors of human rightsideologies.

It’s time to break this blockade in which the civil society of the Republic of Armenia plays an important role.

Artsakh ombudsman expects this issue be included in the RA civil society agenda becoming a subject of comprehensive and in-depth discussion as a result of which the subjects of the Armenian Republic civil society will take active steps to develop cooperation with Artsakh colleagues and bring international structures’ program to Artsakh.

  Specifically:

1.We propose the civil society subjects of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh to express their position on the subject matter and the effective format of their public discussion.

2.We encourage the mass media and social networks active users to promote establish a public agenda on the subject matter.

The RA Ombudsman instructed his stuff to monitor media and social networks on subject matters, collect the publications and suggestions thus assisting in the formulation of the public agenda.

Note: The video is a segment from Ruben Melikyan’s interview given to iravaban.net on June 11.

The Youtube link: ՝ https://youtu.be/nwwROwYc3QQ

Link to the full interview: https://youtu.be/3sw-1hYwZWw

   10.04.2018

Ruben Melikyan met with a group of Artsakh lawyers

On April 9, the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Artsakh with the attorneys of theArtsakh Republic Chamber of Advocates and School of Advocates.  
Both R.Melikyan and the Chairwoman of the Artsakh Republic Chamber of Advocates O.Altunyan highlighted the use of the joint potential of the Institute of Advocacy and the Ombudsman’s institution in guaranteeing human rights. The Ombudsman briefly presented the main records of the 2017 Human Rights Ombudsman’s Annual Report and expressed his willingness to closely cooperate with the Artsakh advocates community in the areas of identification of human rights issues, elaboration of proposals for their solution, as well as developing of advocacy capacities and professional experience exchange.
The advocates set forth a number of questions to the Human Rights Ombudsman which were mainly of legislative and law enforcement issues in the areas of protection of the client’s legitimate interests in pre-trial andjudicial phases, as well as effective legal assistance in places of detention. Within his competence, R.Melikyan committed to investigating the presented issues, international experience in overcoming them and together with the advocates’ community to elaborate and debate the suggestions for resolving the issues.                                                                 
         At the end of the meeting, the sides agreed to keep on the regular contacts.
   31.03.2018

he Human Rights Ombudsman published 2017 Annual Report

On March 31, 2018, under Paragraph 1 of Article 30 of the AR Law on Human Rights, the AR Ombudsman’s institution published the 2017 Annual Report on the activities, as well as the situation of human rights and freedoms protection in Artsakh.             
The document provides information on the overall situation of human rights and freedoms protection in Artsakh, human rights violations in separate areas, recorded problems and possible solutions, as well as recommendations aimed at raising the level of human rights guarantee.                                                                                                
In 2017, the Ombudsman’s staff received 119 applications from 150 persons, of which 55 were written and 64 were oral. The quantitative difference between the applicants and applications is conditioned by collective applications.                                      
In 2017, the activities of the Human Rights Ombudsman’s institution of the Republic of Artsakh continued to be aimed at guaranteeing human rights and freedoms in Artsakh, implementing preventive measures, raising awareness on human rights in the public, civil society structures in Artsakh, AR public authorities, as well as establishing and strengthening cooperation with the Republic of Armenia, Diaspora and international partners.                                                                                                                         
Through the report, the Ombudsman has drawn the attention of the competent bodies to certain issues existing in the AR Law and law enforcement practice (right to fair trial, property right, right to personal liberty and others)making relevant recommendations on regulating the issues set forth, inter alia, basing on the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.                                                                                   
The Ombudsman’s institution is willing to actively cooperate with both the AR state authorities and civil society structures for the purpose of resolving the recorded and any other common issues.                                                                                                       
Throughout 2017, the Ombudsman went on active cooperation with the Armenian Republic Ombudsman, a number of structures from Diaspora, and international partners. From this perspective, the Ombudsman’s international visits and meetings in USA, Belgium France, Austria, Hungary and Romania are remarkable, during which R.Melikyan has taken active steps to establish international relations and strengthen the existing ties, raise issues related to rights of Artsakh’s citizens and in the direction of publicizing and internationalizing the reports of the Artsakh Republic Ombudsman on the atrocities committed by Azerbaijan in April, 2016.
   29.03.2018

The Ombudsman appointed Gerard Guerguerian as advisor

On March 29, 2018, on a decree by AR Human Rights Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan, Gerard Guerguerian has been appointed as adviser to the AR Ombudsman.

Let’s remind that the AR Law on Human Rights Ombudsman enacted on February 1, 2018, along with other content and structural changes, allows the Ombudsman to have up to 5 advisers on a pro bono and voluntary basis.                                                             
Below is Gerard Guerguerian’s biography:   
Gerard Guerguerian was born in 1953 in Lebanon. He lives in France since 1970.       
He is graduated in political sciences from the Institute of Political Sciences of Paris, and in International Law from the University of Panthéon Assas in Paris. He also holds a degree in Psychology from the University of Paris. 

Mr. Guerguerian has practiced international and corporate transactional Law. He has also for many years negotiated and structured a significant number of US and European acquisitions and Joint ventures. He has served during his career as Executive Director and Executive Senior Vice President of major multinational European and US based corporations.
Gerard Guerguerian has written and lectured on International Law topics. Besides publishing numerous articles, he is the author of 2 French books on the Armenian-Turkish relations and Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including “Nagorny Karabakh, between Secession and Self Determination.” Being member of the Paris Bar, he has dedicated his expertise to the Armenian issues from the International Law perspective.                              
Since 2015, Mr. Guerguerian has initiated and implemented different projects in Artsakh aimed at capacity building of the youth.
   28.03.2018

AR Human Rights Ombudsman required detailed clarifications from the AR Police on Asya Khachatryan’s case

Within the scope of the discussion commenced on his own initiative, AR Ombudsman, based on Asya Khachatryan’s interview published on March 26 by express.am information agency, made a request to the Police of the Republic of Artsakh demanding explanations on Asya Khachatryan’s claims.
Guided by paragraph 1 of Article 9 and points 2 and 3 of paragraph 1 of Article 24 of the AR Law on Human Rights Ombudsman, the Ombudsman requested the AR Police to present clarifications on the following: 
1. Asya Khachatryan’s allegations concerning the incident between the latter and police officers at “Victory Square” in Stepanakert at midnight on February 1, in particular, whether the police officers represented themselves in response to the citizen’s request (see 0:11-1:34 video snatch), 
2. Asya Khachatryan’s allegations concerning the incident between the latter and police officers in the evening of February 2 in Stepanakert (the citizen did not specify the address of the mentioned building), in particular, whether the police officers represented themselves in response to the citizen’s request (1:35-2:35),                                   3. Asya Khachatryan’s allegations on being taken by the police officers to Stepanakert Police Departmentand the treatment towards her there (2:36-6:56), in particular:
3.1. On what basis was Asya Khachatryan taken to Police Department (2:36-2:38)?      
3.2. Was a relevant entry made in the register (3:01-3:24)?                                   
3.3. Was Asya Khachatryan introduced to her rights?                                       
3.4. Was the police officer (according to the citizen’s words, “the investigator”) who allegedly talked to the citizen presented himself in response to the latter’s request (3:43-3:46)?                                                                                                              
3.5. Was Asya Khachatryan introduced to the legal basis of her appearance at the Police Department (3:31-3:53)?                                                                                    
3.6. Did Asya Khachatryan present a lawyer’s claim and what response did she receive (5:58-5:59)?                                                                                                   
3.7. How long was Asya Khachatryan at the Police Department?                       
4. Asya Khachatryan’s allegations on the alleged incident between the latter and police officers in civilian clothes in her flat at 1 am of February 4, and the treatment they showed (6:57-10:11), in particular:                                                                              
4.1. Did the mentioned police officers properly introduce themselves to Asya Khachatryan (7:08-7:37)?                                                                                                 
4.2. For what purpose and legal basis did they allegedly enter Asya Khachatryan’s flat (7:37-7:38)?                                                                                                          
5. Asya Khachatryan’s allegations on her and her friend’s (the citizen did not mention the identity) being taken to the Police Department on the night of February 4 and the treatment towards them (10:11-10:36), in particular:                                                      
5.1. On what basis were Asya Khachatryan and her friend allegedly taken to Police Department (10:34-10:36)?                                                                                    
5.2. Was a relevant entry made in the registry? (10:38-10:48)?                                  
5.3. Were Asya Khachatryan and her friend introduced to their rights?                      
5.4. Did Asya Khachatryan demand to inform the person she chose about her being deprived of freedom and what response did she receive (11:13-11:18)?                       
5.5. Did Asya Khachatryan present a lawyer’s request and what response did she receive (11:27-11:32)?                                                                                                   
5.6. Did the police officer (named “John” as mentioned by the citizen) make a claim to Asya Khachatryan incompatible with the law on her behavior in public places (15:52-16:22)?                                                                                                        
5.7. How long Asya Khachatryan and her friend were at the Police Department?                  
6. Other clarifications on the claims made by Asya Khachatryan in the mentioned video footage.                                                                                                              
The Ombudsman also demanded to inform him about the measures taken to check Asya Khachatryan’s clarifications.                                                                           
The Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Artsakh, within his jurisdiction and pursuant to his commitment taken on March 26 statement, continues the discussion procedure.
   27.03.2018

The Ombudsman launched a discussion procedure on Asya Khachatryan’s case

On March 26, at 20:20 pm, epress.am released a material with the headline: “Karabakh policemen to Asya Khachatryan: Go and require law in Armenia” and attached posted a video footage which showed Asya Khachatryan’s claims on committing illegal acts against her by Artsakh Republic Police. 
Based on the video footage and guided by Article 15 of the AR Law on Human Rights Ombudsman, the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Artsakh made a decision to initiate a discussion procedure.
If Asya Khachatryan’s allegations are true, then the actions of the officers of the AR Police are unacceptable and should be subjected to a strict legal assessment.
At the same time, we clarify that the content of the telephone conversation with the AR Ombudsman presented in the video and newsletter is incomplete and partially incorrect. In fact, the AR Ombudsman clarified to A.Khachatryan the effective remedies in this situation; moreover, he encouraged the latter to use them. And the citizen noted that she would present her claims to the AR Human Rights Ombudsman’s institution in written form. But the AR Ombudsman’s office had not received any written complaints on the mentioned facts.
The Human Rights Ombudsman’s institution of the Republic of Artsakh will be consistent in providing adequate legal response to A.Khachatryan’s claims and will take all measures envisaged by the law in this direction. Additional information will be provided to the public concerning further discussion procedure. Strengthening of legal culture in Artsakh and guaranteeing human rights, has been and remains the credo and priority mission of the The Human Rights Ombudsman’s institution of the Republic of Artsakh.
   19.03.2018

Representatives of the AR Human Rights Ombudsman’s institution met with civil society

    
On March 16 and 17, employees of the Human Rights Ombudsman’s staff of the Republic of Artsakh Marina Simonyan and Borik Atayan, on the invitation of the “Maternity” NGO, visited Martuni and Askeran towns and met with the civil society.
During the meeting the employees presented the main directions of activities of the Ombudsman’s institute, general situation of human rights in Artsakh, as well as touched upon the new reforms implementing in the field after the adoption of the new Constitution.                                                                                                                           At the end of the meeting, representatives of the Ombudsman’s institution responded to the questions of the participants.

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