Friday, February 03, 2006

Ex-Human Rights Defender Denied Parliament Access

RFE/RL Armenia Report - 02/03/2006
By Anna Saghabalian

The leadership of Armenia's parliament refused on Friday to allow Larisa Alaverdian, the recently sacked human rights ombudsperson, to present a report detailing her activities last year to the National Assembly.

Under Armenian law, such a report has to be released by the defender on an annual basis. Alaverdian, who was relieved of her duties last month, insists that she has the exclusive right to draw up and publicize the document because she occupied the post in 2005. In an open letter to parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian, she asked for a permission to address the parliament.

Baghdasarian's office responded that only a serving ombudsperson can do that. Alaverdian's successor is expected to be elected by the parliament next week. Leaders of its pro-government majority have already decided to give the job to Armen Harutiunian, President Robert Kocharian's chief constitutional lawyer. Harutiunian would have five months to issue a report on his predecessor's activities.

Alaverdian, meanwhile, said on Friday that she will publish her own report anyway. She confirmed that it will strongly criticize the Armenian authorities' human rights record. `To put it mildly, I don't see an increase in the level of human rights protection in Armenia,' she told RFE/RL.

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