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British FCO Report Finds Shortcomings in Armenia’s Human Rights Record

Human Rights and Democracy: the 2010 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Report covers the British foreign affairs’ office human rights work throughout 2010 and was presented on Mar. 31, 2011. It has seven sections: six thematic sections and a section looking at human rights issues in more depth in 26 countries.

The report touches upon what it considers key human rights issues in Armenia such as insufficient media pluralism, judicial reform (particularly following the events of Mar. 2008) and discrimination against women. The FCO report notes that the second round of the EU–Armenia human rights dialogue took place on Dec. 7 which provided an opportunity for the EU to reiterate to Armenia “the importance of human rights as an essential element for Armenia’s development into a fully democratic society.”

Earlier, in June 2010, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media commented that amendments to the law on television and radio broadcasting in Armenia were not sufficient to improve media pluralism. According to the report, “The EU encouraged the Armenian government and legislators to continue to work closely with civil society, the Council of Europe and OSCE experts to ensure that its broadcasting law promotes media freedom and is in line with international standards.”

The FCO then recalled the March report by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on the conduct of the trials that took place in the aftermath of the Mar. 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan, which revealed shortcomings in Armenia’s justice system and made a number of recommendations

“It is important that the Armenian government implements these recommendations as part of its judicial reform programme,” reiterates the 2010 FCO human rights reports.

“Although Armenia has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its principles are addressed in the constitution, women continue to suffer significant discrimination in economic and political life. On Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the EU announced the launch of 10 new human rights and democracy projects including one that aims to reduce gender-based domestic violence in Armenia,” concludes the section on Armenia in the British FCO report.