Round-table with the Armenian Ombudsman Mr Karen Andreasyan
On 18 October 2011, European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA) held a roundtable at EuFoA's Brussels office with Mr Karen Andreasyan, Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia. The briefing focused on the state of Human Rights and Democracy in Armenia in light of the upcoming parliamentary elections. Representatives from the European institutions, international organisations and NGOs were present at the event.
The effective establishment and functioning of the Ombudsman institution in Armenia was praised by the European Union on numerous occasions. The European Commission's report on the European Neighbourhood Policy implementation progress for Armenia for 2010 has stated that "the work of the Human Rights Defender's office (...) was strongly welcomed and hailed for its performance, especially in fighting torture and in pursuing dialogue with civil society organisations. The institution of the Human Rights Defender's Office (HRDO) continues to play a major role in monitoring the situation on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Armenia." The report also underlined that "Armenia showed considerable efforts in improving cooperation with the EU in the areas of Justice, Freedom and Security." At the same time, the Ombudsman operates in an environment which still requires many improvements to achieve the self-proclaimed targets of a more mature democracy in Armenia. Currently, in light of the upcoming parliamentary elections and intensifying human rights dialogue between EU and Armenia (also in the framework of EaP and Euronest), the role of the Ombudsman is of particular importance and relevance.
During his introductory speech Mr Andreasyan presented briefly the history of the Ombudsman institution in Armenia, as well as its administrative and financial setup. He stressed that his office is active in all areas of human rights and deals with all kinds of applications. Nevertheless, there are a number of fields which in his opinion deserve special attention. The upcoming elections are the first on the top priority list and are regarded by Mr Andreasyan as the biggest challenge that not only the Ombudsman's office, but the entire country is facing at present. The fairness and independence of judiciary is another important issue that his office is currently dealing with. Next on the top priority list are the human rights problems within the army and police, minority rights and women's rights.