ArmInfo. For the office of the Ombudsman of Armenia, 2019 was unprecedentedly overloaded in terms of the amount of work done. Human Rights Defender of Armenia Arman Tatoyan stated this on May 11 from the rostrum of the parliament.
He noted that the number of applications and complaints increased by 3 times. <If in 2016 there were 5.113 applications, then in 2019 their number increased to 13.140. Moreover, from January 1 to April 30, 2020, 75% more applications were received than for the entire last year. And all of the above does not include visits to places of deprivation of liberty, monitoring, expressing opinions on legislative initiatives, etc. Moreover, since 2019 we ourselves have been developing legislative acts. In 2019, the rating of the Human Rights Defender of Armenia in the international arena also increased; various authoritative international structures listen to our recommendations. International partners suggested introducing our experience in countries such as Portugal, Jordan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tunisia, Morocco, etc. I would also like to note that the Ombudsman Institute in Armenia has been assigned the status <A> by an independent UN commission, which indicates that its creation and functioning complies with international standards of independence>, Tatoyan emphasized.
According to the Ombudsman, for the defender of human rights, not only the international image is very important, but also the trust of the people within the country. <According to the estimates of the International Republican Institute, the Ombudsman is trusted by 63% of the population of Armenia. According to the estimates of the Center for Anti-Corruption Studies and Initiatives of Transparency International, the majority of respondents after the Prime Minister and the police would report the corruption ombudsmen by officials to the Ombudsman of Armenia, "Tatoyan stated.
Tatoyan also touched on the importance of suffrage. <Despite the fact that in 2019 no national elections were held in Armenia, however, elections were held to local authorities, during which positive dynamics persisted, which was recorded during the early parliamentary elections in 2018. In the field of social security, positive dynamics were also outlined, however, there are significant problems. Often people are denied benefits on an unreasonable and frivolous basis. Citizens are not advised about the documents that they need to provide, as well as about the danger that may arise if they are late with the provision of documents. The rights of citizens who live abroad and receive a pension are also infringed. They may have problems with receiving pensions if they do not visit the bank to receive it at least once>, the human rights advocate noted.
Human Rights Defender also noted that there are a number of issues regarding the judicial system. <At times, children with down syndrome, AIDS and hepatitis are negatively affected by medical staff and other patients. Moreover, violations of medical confidentiality have been noticed, as well as there are cases of violation of the rights to medical support for unsecured layers of society>, Tatoyan emphasized.
The Human Rights Defender also noted that there are a number of issues regarding the judicial system. <Judges and the judiciary do not enjoy special trust in society. Often, court decisions are made in violation of the rights of citizens who have applied to the court. And the problem is not always in the negligence of the judge; judges in the country work with great overload. We need to restore people's confidence in the judicial system>, the Ombudsman noted.
Tatoyan stated that freedom of speech plays a special role in protecting human rights. <We have seen positive changes in this area. However, a special place in the protection of human rights is freedom of speech on social networks. In Armenia, in 2019, there has been a development of hatred, threats and aggression in social networks. Fake accounts are particularly aggressive. You should immediately stop the development of an environment of hatred in social networks. In this regard, the work of the media is of particular importance. It is the press that should help the government solve such important issues. And every effort should be made to prevent violation of rights of the press,> he said.
The Ombudsman stated that there are problems in the field of individual freedom. <So, sometimes citizens are illegally detained, and also often, arrest is chosen unreasonably as a preventive measure. Arrest is the strictest measure of restraint and should be elected only in exceptional cases. Also, an arrested person cannot be restricted in meetings with members of his family. Particularly apparent are the problems associated with the presumption of innocence, which is often violated. Violations by law enforcement agencies are also observed in this matter, which lawyers did not symbolize. At the penitentiary institution, a person should be provided with appropriate medical care and his rights in custody should not be violated. Also, 77% of negative conclusions are made to requests in the field of probation, which is incorrect and contradicts the very essence of this system>, Tatoyan noted.
The Ombudsman noted that a special place is given to human rights in the army. <We pay special attention to cooperation with the Ministry of Defense. Discipline should be established in the army, and personnel working in the army should be provided with everything necessary. Also, a special place in my activity is occupied by the protection of the rights of residents of Artsakh. Women, elderly and children also live in Artsakh. Violation of their rights is unacceptable>, Tatoyan concluded.