Acquittal of human rights defender Arshaluys Hakobian

16/02/2010
Press release
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Paris-Geneva-Yerevan, February 16, 2010. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), along with the Civil Society Institute, Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly Vanadzor Office, the Helsinki Committee of Armenia, the Collaboration for Democracy Centre, Transparency International Anti-Corruption Centre, as well as the Foundation Against Violation of Law, welcome the acquittal of human rights defender Arshaluys Hakobian.

On February 5, 2010, the Court of General Jurisdiction Kentron and Nork Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan acquitted, in the absence of evidence, Mr. Arshaluys Hakobian, a member of the Armenian Helsinki Association and press photographer of the official website of the organisation (www.hahr.am).

Our organisations recall that on June 6, 2009, the Court of First Instance for Kentron and Nork Marash Districts had placed Mr. Hakobian in pre-trial detention. His arrest followed his attempt to monitor the elections for the Mayor of Yerevan together with a group of observers. After he had filed a complaint to challenge denial to accede a polling station, the police summoned him and eventually arrested him. Mr. Hakobian was charged with “violence against a Government representative” pursuant to Article 316 of the Criminal Code and his trial started on September 16, 2009.

On October 16, 2009, the Court of First instance of Kentron and Nork Marash Districts of Yerevan decided to release on bail Mr. Arshaluys Hakobian, who had been in pre-trial detention for four months. Immediately after the hearing, Mr. Hakobian had to sign a document by which he committed not to leave the area. He eventually walked out of the court room free and the trial was postponed pending complementary investigation.

Our organisations welcome Mr. Arshaluys Hakobian’s acquittal, and thank all the persons, institutions and organisations who have intervened in his favour.

Nevertheless, our organisations denounce that, in the course of his detention, Mr. Arshaluys Hakobian was subjected to acts of ill-treatment. We therefore urge the Armenian authorities to order a thorough, immediate, effective and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned facts, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the sanctions provided by the law, in conformity with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders as well as international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Armenia.

For further information, please contact:

· FIDH : Karine Appy / Gael Grilhot, + 33 1 43 55 25 18

· OMCT : Delphine Reculeau, + 41 22 809 49 39

· Civil Society Institute, +374 10 574317

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