Tovmasyan: Hope that Nikol Pashinyan’s authority will infere conclusions from the exhortations of our international colleagues
Head of EU Delegation European Union in Armenia to Armenia, Ambassadors of EU Member States, Director General of the Council of Europe DG Human Rights and Rule of Law replied to my urgent letters
After putting into circulation the draft resolutions on recalling opposition MP Ishkhan SAGHATELYAN from Office and Termination of Powers of RA NA opposition MP Vahe HAKOBYAN, I urgently sent letters also to the Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin and Ambassadors of EU Member States, also Christos Giakoumopoulos, Director General of the Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe.
In my letters I noted that as the justifications of the Draft Decisions make it clear, the ruling faction takes such initiatives because of the opposition MP’s boycott of parliamentary work (not participating in the voting, absences from the NA Council Sessions, absences from the Standing Committee sessions), opinions and statements made during the rallies.
Referring to the boycott I stressed that according to the European Court’s position a boycott is a form of expressing a protesting opinion which is protected by Article 10 of the Convention and that especially the parliamentary boycott has been practiced in all democratic states.
Referring to the opinions and calls by the opposition MPs during the rallies, they are also protected by the Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Freedom of Expression). And if the members of the ruling faction think that they contain violation of criminal law, then a criminal-legal assessment of their actions should be given. If not, then they are fully protected by internal and international norms on freedom of expression especially for MPs and therefore an MP should not be punished for the freedom of expression.
On this matter I requested my colleagues to come up with a public statement on such a behavior by the ruling party highly problematic from the perspective of human rights which is against democratic principles.
In reply, Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassadors of EU Member States inform that the EU and its Member States attach great importance to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and note that each state has the right to set up rules as well as disciplinary procedures for its officials and deputies, in relation with their duties and responsibilities.
Citing Article 98.2 in the RA Constitution / The powers of a Deputy shall be terminated in case of unexcused absence from at least half of the votings held during each half of the calendar year, as well as in case of violating the requirements of Article 95 of the Constitution / at the same time they note that the EU Delegation and the Member States are not in a position to judge whether the decision taken on Friday 1 July are in accordance with the Constitution and that is the task of the relevant bodies of the Republic of Armenia.
The EU Delegation and its Member States stand committed to support Human Rights and continue to closely monitoring the situation in Armenia.
In his reply Christos Giakoumopoulos, Director General of the Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe notes the following: “We are closely following the events relating to the opposition protests in Yerevan. As confirmed by the Venice Commission (Parameters on the Relationship between the Parliamentary Majority and the Opposition in a Democracy), “political action may follow various paths, and attendance at sittings is not the sole form of action.” Boycott of Parliament may therefore be seen as a form of action by elected representatives.
Mr. Giakoumopoulos draws our attention to the position of the Venice Commission that it would nevertheless be conceivable for the Constitution to lay down a rule of attendance and indicate penalties on defaulting members, ranging from partial or complete withdrawal of indemnity to withdrawal of the right to vote, but without providing for the loss of the mandate.
As to an organized and prolonged mass boycott of the work of Parliament by the opposition, it cannot entirely be ruled out as a legitimate form of political behavior, but it is permissible only in rare and very extreme circumstances where the legitimacy of Parliament is in doubt due to the actions of the majority.
Disagreements about current politics, even major ones cannot justify boycott”.
Christos Giakoumopoulos, Director General of the Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe assures: “Please rest assured that I and the relevant departments of the Council of Europe continue to follow the situation in Armenia”.
Hope that Nikol Pashinyan’s authority will infere conclusions from the exhortations of our international colleagues and will stop taking revenge on the oppositionists. Otherwise one should state that Pashinyan’s government treads democratic values under foot with wide steps.
Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs, nonpartisan Taguhi Tovmasyan