“The Revolution has created an environment in which human beings are of highest value and the protection of their rights is the Government’s primary task” - PM Attends Conference on 15th Anniversary of Human Rights Defender’s Office
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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attended the opening ceremony of the international conference dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the Office of Human Rights Defender, which was held in the Conference Hall of the National Assembly.
The conference was attended by members of the Armenian government, National Assembly members, heads of diplomatic missions accredited in the Republic of Armenia, ombudsmen from more than 30 countries and representatives of 20 international organizations, including European Commission Director for Neighborhood East, DG Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) Lawrence Meredith, Head of the Independent Human Rights Bodies Division of the Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe Markus Jaeger, OSCE / ODIHR Director Inhibjörr Solrun Gisladottir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Press Harlem Desir, Venice Commission First Vice President Dr Herdís Thorgeirsdóttir, President of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), President of Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Mohamed Fayek, and RF Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova.
Addressing the conference participants, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated:
“Honorable Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia,
Esteemed National Assembly Speaker,
judicial system representatives,
I congratulate all of us on the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the institution of the Defender of Human Rights, since the protection of human rights is one of the most important goals that a democratic government, a democratic society and a democratic country can have in the modern world.
Fifteen years ago, when the Ombudsman’s institution was being established in our country, there were some pessimistic views about its influence on the status of human rights in Armenia. But we can state now that the institution is fully constituted in Armenia with its invaluable contribution to the protection of human rights.
It should be noted that the relations between the Ombudsman, on the one hand, and the Government and the authorities, on the other hand, were not so seamless over the past 15 years. Suffice it to note that the first three ombudsmen did not hold their posts until the end of their term and resigned, which was publicly perceived as a manifestation of deep disagreements between the ombudsman and the authorities.
However, we are convinced or, at least, hope that as a result of the non-violent velvet popular revolution of 2018, new conditions and a new atmosphere for the activities of the Defender of Human Rights were created in Armenia, as well as new conditions and a new atmosphere for the protection of human rights, in general, because the revolution was made by people, the proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia, and therefore the revolution ought to provide and actually provided the necessary atmosphere, in which the human being is de facto the highest value, and the protection of human rights is a priority for the government and the authorities.
This, of course, does not mean that the protection of human rights in the Republic of Armenia is in perfect condition today. This means that the protection of human rights is at least the same priority for the Government of the Republic of Armenia as for the defender of human rights. And in this regard, I myself, the Government and the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia consider that the Human Rights Defender has a crucial mission to complete in the Republic of Armenia, because we consider the Ombudsman’s institution to be one of our most important allies all the way through this process
In general, our activities after the revolution are primarily aimed at the protecting human rights based on the simple understanding that everyone is equal before the law in the Republic of Armenia and that inequality leads to corruption. The Government should primarily enhance the status of human rights in fighting against corruption; the Government should guarantee citizens’ right to well-being while combating monopolies.
Today we can state that as assisted by the Armenian Human Rights Defender, we have set a hectic agenda for the protection of human rights in our country. We can also state that important institutional issues have been resolved that went unaddressed for many years.
First of all, in December 2018, we held extraordinary parliamentary elections, and they were the first in the history of Armenia’s parliamentary elections, the results of which were not contested in the Constitutional Court, and the results of which were not questioned neither by the international community nor by the Armenian public. On the contrary, they were highly appreciated by all local and international observers as free, competitive and democratic.
And it is very important to see the problems that we are facing today. The first challenge stems from the understanding that Armenia is undoubtedly a democratic country, but our democracy, let me say, has had an emotional bias following the non-violent velvet popular revolution of 2018.
Now we must make democracy institutionally stronger in our country so that its future could in no way depend on the taste, mood or discretion of any leader, any personality, or any political party. We are firmly determined to move forward in this direction.
Another serious challenge is the establishment of an independent judiciary. We note that together with the legislative and executive authorities of the Republic of Armenia, the judiciary has contributed to massive violations of human rights, and today the existence of a truly independent judicial system is a priority for us.
I wish to state the intent and the will of our government. We are not at all interested in getting the judicial system under control. In general, we are fundamentally opposed to the fact that the judicial system used to be under someone’s control. But when the Government of the Republic of Armenia demonstrated its will, both practical and political, to abandon the practice of controlling the judicial system, we realized that it opened up a niche for those who had previously controlled the judiciary as they saw in it an opportunity for themselves to continue exercising control over the judicial system in a bid to reverse the democratic changes in Armenia.
I wish to state unequivocally that the judicial system in Armenia must undergo fundamental changes so that we could have a truly independent judiciary as one of the key institutions of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Armenia.
Today we have big problems with the quality of the legal system, as a whole. The problems are objective, because these systems have worked for many years in such an environment, in conditions that in their depth were contrary to the protection of human rights. Therefore, we also need a new law enforcement system under the new conditions.
Let me say that in the context of the ongoing reforms, the Human Rights Defender’s institution is of paramount importance to us, since we consider the Ombudsman a catalyst for evaluating our reforms, which can counterbalance even the most democratic and kindest efforts initiated by our government.
I am convinced that the Ombudsman’s institution, the Human Rights Defender can play such a role, and the Government of the Republic of Armenia, the ruling political majority will do everything possible to provide the conditions conducive to the Ombudsman’s smooth operations as one of the most important institutions of democracy, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights .
Reiterating my congratulations, I wish to express conviction that the situation with the protection of human rights in Armenia will improve day by day, every week, every month and every year through close cooperation instead of confrontation between the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the Ombudsman’s institution.”
In conclusion, the Prime Minister attended a panel discussion on the role of national human rights institutions and challenges in the modern world, at which reports were made by Armenian Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan, OSCE / ODIHR Director Inhibjörr Solrun Gisladottir, President of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), President of Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Mohamed Fayek, and RF Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova.