1. The Committee considered the initial report of Armenia (CCPR/C/92/Add.2)
at its 1710th and 1711th meetings (CCPR/C/SR.1710-1711) held on 26 October
1998 and adopted the following concluding observations at its 1721st
and 1725th meetings (CCPR/C/SR.1721 and 1725) held on 2 and 4 November
it notes the long delay in the submission of the report, the Committee
welcomes the initial report of the State party, covering events that
occurred from the country's independence, and the dialogue with the
delegation on the implementation of the provisions of the Covenant.
It appreciates the frankness with which the State party acknowledges
the current problems, which are partly attributable to the fact that
the country is in a period of transition, and its willingness to provide
further information in writing.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee
commends the State party for the process currently under way to bring
its legislation fully into line with its international obligations.
It welcomes the establishment of the Constitutional Commission to review
the Constitution and the adoption of the law on the independence of
the judiciary, the law on the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Criminal
and Civil Codes, the law on civil and criminal procedure, the Labour
Code, the Electoral Code, the law on citizenship and the laws on the
rights of the child. It looks forward to receiving these new laws once
they come into force.
4. The Committee
notes with satisfaction the establishment of the Commission on Human
Rights as an advisory body to the President of the Republic, with competence
to review draft legislation affecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
It notes the setting up of a Human Rights Department within the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs. The Committee further welcomes the proposal to establish
the office of Ombudsmen with power to deal with individual complaints.
5. The Committee
commends the State party for its expressed intention to abolish the
death penalty by 1 January 1999, which will automatically affect all
persons currently on death row.
6. The Committee
welcomes the release of political prisoners in Armenia following the
last presidential elections. In this connection, it notes with satisfaction
that non-governmental organizations have been given the important role
of visiting prisoners and making spot checks. In this connection, the
Committee notes the role played by the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers
in addressing complaints within military garrisons. In addition, the
Committee notes the agreement with the International Committee of the
Red Cross giving ICRC representatives access to detainees in Armenia.
C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
7. The Committee
expresses its grave concern about the incompatibility of several provisions
of the Constitution with the Covenant: for example, article 22 of the
Constitution, which guarantees freedom of movement only to Armenian
citizens, contravenes article 12 of the Covenant; articles 23, 44 and
45 of the Constitution, which allow derogation under a state of emergency
and limitations to the freedom of thought and religion, contravene articles
4, paragraph 2, and 18 of the Covenant. The inconsistency of domestic
law with provisions of the Covenant not only engenders legal insecurity,
but is likely to lead to violations of rights protected under the Covenant.
8. The Committee
notes that the independence of the judiciary is not fully guaranteed.
In particular, it observes that the election of judges by popular vote
for a fixed maximum term of six years does not ensure their independence
9. The Committee
is concerned that pursuant to article 101 of the Constitution only representatives
of the executive and legislative branches may have recourse to the Constitutional
Court. The Committee recommends that the State party amend its Constitution
so as to enable individuals, in appropriate circumstances, to bring
questions concerning human rights guaranteed in the Constitution, many
of which are also protected in the Covenant, to the Constitutional Court.
10. The Committee
takes note that the new Criminal Code provides for the abolition of
the death penalty, and recommends that the death sentences of all persons
currently on death row be immediately commuted. The Committee hopes
that the State party will consider ratification of the Second Optional
Protocol to the Covenant aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
11. The Committee
is concerned that all the grounds for pre-trial detention are not listed
in the present law. While noting that the new Criminal Code provides
for a maximum period of three months' detention, the Committee is concerned
that very few detainees benefit from bail, and urges the State party
to observe strictly the requirements of article 9, paragraph 3, of the
12. The Committee
expresses its concern about allegations of torture and ill-treatment
by law-enforcement officials. The Committee recommends the establishment
of a special independent body to investigate complaints of torture and
ill-treatment by law enforcement personnel.
13. The Committee
is concerned about the poor conditions prevailing in prisons. It reminds
the State party that all persons deprived of their liberty must be treated
with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human
person, and recommends that the State party observe the Standard Minimum
Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
14. The Committee
observes that de facto discrimination against women persists as a matter
of custom and stresses that this problem should be addressed in the
light of Armenia's obligations under the Covenant.
15. The Committee
is concerned about discrimination against women in employment and their
under-representation in the conduct of public affairs. Furthermore,
the Committee regrets the disproportionate level of unemployment among
women, which has been explained by the delegation as being due to economic
16. The lack
of data on cases of domestic violence should not be interpreted to mean
that no such incidents occur. The Committee therefore recommends that
specific protection and punitive measures be taken with respect to all
forms of violence against women, including rape. The Committee urges
the State party to compile relevant data for submission in the next
17. The Committee
is concerned as to the existence of the phenomenon of street children
in Armenia. The State party must urgently address this issue under article
24 of the Covenant.
18. The Committee
regrets the lack of legal provision for alternatives to military service
in case of conscientious objection. The Committee deplores the conscription
of conscientious objectors by force and their punishment by military
courts, and the instances of reprisals against their family members.
19. The Committee
is concerned that registration of religions is required and that the
number of followers required for registration has been increased. The
Committee also notes that non-recognized religions are discriminated
against in their entitlement to own private property and to receive
20. The Committee
is concerned about the compatibility of the 1991 Press Law with freedom
of expression under article 19 of the Covenant, in particular that the
notion of "State secrets" and of "untrue and unverified information"
(article 6 of the Press Law) are unreasonable restrictions on freedom
of expression. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned about the extent
of the Government's monopoly in respect of printing and distribution
21. The Committee
expresses its concern about the strict governmental control over electronic
media, which may raise issues under article 19 and which results in
serious limitations to the exercise of the rights guaranteed in article
25, in particular with regard to elections.
22. The Committee
expresses its concern about the State party's position that it is not
possible to ensure that small national minorities have access to educational
facilities in their language of origin. The Committee recommends that
measures be taken in conformity with article 27 of the Covenant.
23. The Committee
commends the State party for its efforts in disseminating information
on human rights, including human rights education in school curricula.
In particular, the Committee observes that human rights training of
the legal profession and of the judiciary is necessary for democracy.
Therefore, the Committee recommends that such training be provided.
The Committee urges the State party to disseminate widely its initial
report and the Committee's concluding observations.
24. The Committee
has fixed the date for submission of Armenia's second periodic report
to be October 2001.