Public protests and instabilities will be inevitable in Armenia in 2018, according to top representatives of human rights NGOs.
Speaking to Tert.am, President of Helsinki Committee of Armenia Avetik Ishkhanyan stressed the importance of civil society campaigns as a serious effort towards combating numerous human rights abuses.
He also highlighted last year’s public debates addressing the problem of domestic violence, and political prisoners. “But because human rights violations bear a systemic character in Armenia and there is no clear-cut separation of powers, the civil society’s achievements can be only partial, not systemic,” Ishkhanyan noted.
He added that very often violent acts by law enforcement officials go unpunished, encouraging them to commit further abuses.
Addressing the problem, Artur Sakunts, President of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office, said he sees that the scope of activities has essentially narrowed for civil society organizations, restricting their chances to react freely to different developments.
“I observe regress in participatory processes and the civil society’s role in, and impact upon, the decision-making,” he said, citing restrictions on the media and civil society NGOs in election monitoring activities.
Sakunts also stressed the importance of considering opinion-makers’ decision, a process which he said also saw a regress in the country in 2017.
He added that he doesn’t have optimistic forecasts for 2018 either. “We will be facing an institutionalized authoritarianism in 2018. With the problems never finding a real solution, exercising pressures, silencing and taking processes under control remain the only possible method. So instabilities and demonstrations will be inevitable,” Sakunts said.