February 16, 2011

Council of Europe: There is no abuse of ethnic minorities in Armenia

European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has published a report on the situation with national and religious freedom in Armenia. Experts note the significant improvements in the country since the publication of the previous report in 2007.

The report specifically notes that the Armenian authorities have made considerable efforts in the field of education and culture preservation of ethnic minorities. There are no restrictions in Armenia on broadcasting programs about ethnic minorities. The legislation of Armenia creates favourable conditions for opening kindergartens in area, where ethnic minorities live. The state has offered its support to the Jewish community in preserving their heritage.

The Human Rights Defender will closely examine the complaints from all vulnerable groups.  

A new refugee law has been put in force, and all the people, who temporary needed protection, were granted refugee status. International organizations conducted trainings for the soldier defenders, serving on the border. 

As before, there is no violence against ethnic minorities and other nationalities in Armenia. There are meagre anti-Islamic sentiments in the country, and they are almost nullified.  

The ECRI welcome all the positive developments in Armenia. However, despite this progress, some issues still give cause for concern.

There are no civil or administrative laws against racial discrimination; the Criminal Code doesn’t have anything that prohibits organizations which promote racial discrimination.

Also, no changes were made to the law on alternative service. The limiting law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations, which became the subject of criticism both inland and abroad, was passed on first reading in the parliament.  

The country is intolerant towards religious freedom. The students who belong to religious minorities are being discriminated against.  

There is a lack of funding of construction of kindergartens for the national minorities; the same situation is in the field of higher education. 

Living conditions for the refugees need to be improved. The refugees also don’t know anything about their rights.