On September 24, the Partnership for Open Society Initiative launched the series of discussions focusing on the process of Constitutional Amendments in Armenia. The first even in these series focused on the possible violation of freedom of expression in the context of having only single vote in the upcoming referendum. Representatives of the Specialized Commission on the Constitutional Amendments, of the RA Central Electoral Commission and the Standing Committee on State and Legal Affairs of the National Assembly were invited to speak at the event but declined their participation. Hayk Alumyan, attorney was the main speaker at the event who presented his arguments for the need of a change in the format of the referendum so as to allow for multiple votes on each substantive sets of amendments. He argued that giving a single vote for changes that are not intrinsically connected robs the population of the right to express their view on the substantive changes to the Constitution.
Following Mr. Alumyan’s presentation, the floor was opened for debate. The overwhelming majority of the participants mentioned that they are against the content of current constitution amendments, particularly the discussion focused on the substantive retreats from human rights safeguards specifically in view of right to liberty, protection against torture, provision for equal opportunities, right to health, and right to work. The participants voiced their concerns with lack of public awareness on the scope of the overall changes and of the lowering of human rights in particular.
The discussion brought together more than 50 representatives from NGOs, international organizations, Embassies, media and universities.
A public statement was introduced during the event and is open for signature for all civil society organizations and initiatives. The statement is accessible at this link.
Second discussion is planned at 14.00, on October 2, Congress Hotel, Ball Room and will address the issue of human rights and freedoms in the Amendments to the Constitution.