Home / Video / Elections, LGBT Rights, Torture: Human Rights Watch Report on Armenia

Elections, LGBT Rights, Torture: Human Rights Watch Report on Armenia

Human rights violations in Armenia continued in 2013. The US-based organization Human Rights Watch addressed some of the more pressing concerns in the country last year in its annual review, the 2014 World Report. Some of the issues it addressed were disputable presidential and municipal elections, threats on freedom of assembly and attacks against activists, torture and ill-treatment in custody, freedom of expression, and threats faced by the country's LGBT population. Below is an excerpt from the report on the situation in Armenia.

On the presidential and municipal elections: "Although generally well-administered, reports of voter harassment, vote-buying, misuse of administrative resources to favor incumbents, and police unresponsiveness to citizens' complaints marred both elections."

On freedom of assembly and attacks against activists: "In August, police used force to disperse a crowd of local residents and civic activists in central Yerevan, demanding to halt construction of a high-rise apartment building in the city center. Police briefly detained some 26 protestors and beat at least one has he was transported to a police station; he required brief hospitalization. In October, the Armenian ombudsman's office found that the police has used disproportionate force but no disciplinary action had been taken at time of writing."

The report also mentioned the Women's Resource Center of Armenia and the "increasing number of threats [it faced] by nationalist groups, including Facebook comments by users who threatened to blow it up and slit the throats of its activists. While these threats have been reported to the police, authorities have yet to investigate at time of writing."

"In November, authorities arrested Shant Harutyunyan, an opposition leader, and 13 activists, after they clashed with riot police following an attempted march to the presidential administration building. The government claims that the group intended to forcibly occupy the building. At time of writing, all those detained remained in pretrial custody, facing criminal charges of violence against the authorities. Harutyunyan claimed that police officials physically abused him in custody, but authorities have not initiated an investigation into the allegations."

On torture and ill-treatment in custody: "According to local human rights defenders, torture and ill-treatment in police custody persist, and the definition of torture in Armenian law does not meet international standards, as it does not include crimes committed by public officials. Authorities often refuse to investigate allegations of ill-treatment or pressure victims to retract complaints. Police use torture to coerce confessions and incriminating statements from suspects and witnesses."

On freedom of expression: "Armenia has diverse print and online media, but broadcast media lacks pluralism; for example, only 1 of Armenia's 13 television stations carries live political talk shows. International election observers noted the media's 'selective approach' in covering post-presidential election developments, notably limiting views critical of the conduct of the election."

On sexual orientation and gender identity: "Local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights activists have expressed concern for the alarming level of homophobia in Armenia. According to PINK Armenia, a local rights group, transgender women who engage in sex work are frequently assaulted and receive no police protection when they report abuse. PINK Armenia also reported that the LGBT population continues to experience employment discrimination, obstacles in health care, and physical and psychological abuse in the army, in public, and in families. 

"According to an August Amnesty International report, government officials frequently condone violent attacks against LGBT people, characterizing the violence as an expression of 'traditional values'."