EHRAC began working in Armenia in 2012, and we are currently litigating 30 cases before the European Court of Human Rights. Amongst other issues, we have litigated cases concerning the right to life, mass protests, discrimination and property rights. Human Rights Watch has expressed concerns about ill-treatment in police custody, the failure to adequately investigate noncombat deaths in the military and violent attacks against peaceful protesters. The use of lethal force by the government and its agents against peaceful protesters remains a key issue in the domestic and international political and human rights agenda in Armenia, as evidenced by the ‘Electric Yerevan’ protests in summer 2015, and those against President Sargsyan in summer 2016. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and gender-based violence, by both state and non-state actors, are also serious problems.
Examples of cases against Armenia
Respect for the LGBT Community
Those who support or advocate for LGBT rights in our target region often face degrading treatment and prejudice. In November 2015, EHRAC assisted the NGO PINK Armenia in submitting an application to the European Court, concerning a ‘blacklist’ published online in 2014 by an Armenian newspaper. The article contained links to the Facebook profiles of 60 LGBT activists, made offensive comments against them and incited discriminatory treatment, such as terminating all interaction with the named people. The 16 applicants complain of damage to their honour and dignity through defamatory statements made by the newspaper’s chief-editor, and are seeking a public apology and compensation. In their application to the Court, the applicants allege that the hate speech caused them physical insecurity and psychological harm, and was degrading and discriminatory. Given the lack of an anti-discrimination law in Armenia, a positive judgment in this case will not only benefit the applicants themselves, but could assist current advocacy efforts by civil society for new anti-discrimination legislation.
Safeguarding citizens’ rights during protests
We aim to address systemic breaches of citizens’ rights to demonstrate peacefully in Armenia in a number of joint cases alleging the disproportionate use of force, including the deaths of protesters and others following the contested presidential elections in 2008. The cases are of crucial importance, not only for the applicants, who could not secure justice in Armenia, but also for Armenian society; use of lethal force by the Government and its agents against the peaceful protesters on 1 March 2008 remains a key issue in the domestic and international political and human rights agenda in Armenia.
Death of a schoolboy
Derenik Gasparyan, 11, was was beaten up by two pupils whilst his teacher was out of the classroom and died before he was admitted to hospital. Before the European Court, his family complained that the school administration and teaching staff failed to protect Derenik’s right to life, and that the authorities had failed to conduct an effective investigation into his death. They further submitted that the duty of the State and of schools in relation to the safety and security of pupils in educational institutions is not properly regulated by Armenian law; this case, which was promptly communicated to the Armenian Government, emphasises the need to clearly ascertain the responsibility, obligations and liability of the State and its agents, including school administration. The Armenian Government was invited to submit its observations on the case in June 2015, to which EHRAC and our partners at Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, Vanadzor responded in early 2016.
Towards resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Minas Sargsyan and his family lived in Gulistan, Azerbaijan, until 1992, when heavy bombing by Azerbaijani forces in the region compelled them to flee to the Armenian capital, Yerevan. The Grand Chamber of the European Court found in June 2015 that Azerbaijan violated the family’s property rights and their right to respect for family life and home. At present, there is no mechanism in Azerbaijan through which families like the Sargsyans could have their property rights restored, and no effective remedy was available. After 27 years of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, and over a million people displaced, the judgment is a crucial step towards securing justice for civilian victims. The Sargsyan family were represented by EHRAC and Legal Guide.
Our Partners in Armenia
We collaborate with several organisations on the ground including:
- Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor
- Legal Guide
- Foundation against the Violation of Law
- Europe in Law Association
- PINK Armenia
Armenia at the European Court
- Armenia ratified the European Convention on Human Rights in 2002.
- To date, there are 1272 applications against Armenia pending at the ECHR.
- Of the 8 judgments passed down against Armenia in 2015, the most commonly found violations were: right to a fair trial, inhuman or degrading treatment, and lack of effective investigation.