Charging persons for political motivation is ‘unacceptable’: PACE committee demands suspension of Armenia’s delegation voting rights

Declaring it “unacceptable” that persons could be charged and deprived of their liberty for political motivation in Armenia in relation to the events of 1 and 2 March 2008, the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) yesterday recommended suspending the voting rights of Armenia’s eight-member delegation to the Assembly until the authorities “have clearly demonstrated their political will to resolve this issue.” The co-rapporteurs would visit the country in January 2009, with a view to reporting back to the Committee on the first day of the January 2009 part-session on any progress with respect to the release of these persons.
In two earlier resolutions, the Assembly had made several demands following the post-electoral violence of March 2008, including the holding of an independent, transparent and credible inquiry into what happened, and the release of persons detained on “seemingly artificial and politically motivated charges” in connection with those events.
In its draft resolution, adopted yesterday in Paris, the Monitoring Committee welcomed the Armenian President’s creation of a fact-finding group of experts to look into the March events as an important step towards meeting the Assembly’s demands, but cautioned that its credibility would depend on how it conducts its work. They also expressed satisfaction at efforts to initiate reforms in the media, electoral legislation and the judiciary.
However, the parliamentarians said that “notwithstanding positive developments in some areas” the limited progress with regard to the release of the above mentioned persons meant the Armenian delegation should be deprived of its vote, if no further progress is reached in this request before the January 2009 PACE plenary session.
The Assembly is due to decide on the matter on Thursday 29 January during its forthcoming Winter plenary Session (26 – 30 January 2009).