"AMEMDMENTS TO ARMENIA'S ASSEMBLY LAW RAISE SERIOUS CONCERNS"

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02 April, 2008

OSCE, Council of Europe: amendments to Armenia's assembly law
raise serious concerns Strasbourg/Warsaw, 02.04.2008 - In a joint
legal opinion, the Council of Europe's Venice Commission and the
OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)
concluded that recent amendments to Armenia's assembly law raise
serious concerns.

The amendments to the Law of the Republic of Armenia on Conducting
Meetings, Assemblies, Rallies and Demonstrations, passed on 17 March
2008, were reviewed by the ODIHR's Expert Panel on Freedom of Assembly
and the Venice Commission following a request from the Speaker of
the Armenian Parliament.

"On the basis of a preliminary assessment, the Venice Commission and
the OSCE/ODIHR Expert Panel on Freedom of Assembly do not consider
the proposed amendments to be acceptable, to the extent that they
restrict further the right of assembly in a significant fashion",
says the joint opinion.

The amendments tighten provisions concerning spontaneous assemblies,
and limit the possibility for decisions on restricting assemblies
deemed to pose a risk for public order to be reviewed by an
independent tribunal or court. In addition, a provision allowing
for small events to develop spontaneously into bigger assemblies -
which was considered a good practice example and made the Law in its
previous form stand out as progressive - has been repealed. The joint
opinion of the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR was shared with
the National Assembly on 28 March 2008, and will be discussed with
National Assembly representatives in Yerevan on 15-16 April 2008.

The joint opinion continues the long-standing cooperation between
the Armenian authorities, the ODIHR and the Venice Commission on the
legislative regulation of public assemblies