Politics 16:35 22/04/2024 Armenia

Political prisoners Narek Samsonyan and Vazgen Saghatelyan must be immediately released: statement

Opposition activists Narek Samsonyan and Vazgen Saghatelyan, co-hosts of the Imnemnimi podcast, have been illegally detained for one month now. Even the current Armenian government does not deny political motives behind their incarceration, the International Center on Development of Parliamentarism said in a statement on Monday. The statement is partially provided below.

"On March 22, Samsonyan and Saghatelyan were arrested and placed in pretrial detention on charges of hooliganism, while their detention was marked by the use of unnecessary brutality degrading a person’s dignity and personal inviolability.

Legal assessment of the act ascribed to Samsonyan and Saghatelyan

According to the prosecution, Samsonyan and Saghatelyan have been charged with "hooliganism" under Article 297 of the Penal Code which refers to the demonstration of disrespect towards legal or moral norms of the society with the use of information and communication technologies, which has manifested itself in humiliation of a person or the use of foul language.

It is obvious to an unbiased observer that the content of the notorious “grave insults” article, which was added to the Penal Code in July 2021 by the ruling party but later decriminalized following pressure from the international community, has now been wrapped in the “hooliganism” article in an effort to arbitrarily punish government critics.

As a result of these legislative tricks, the ruling political party has apparently attempted to circumvent the demand of international structures regarding the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and information, as well as to continue punishing opposition figures criticizing them with the use of criminal legal instruments.

The detention of Samsonyan and Saghatelyan is a clear testament to this purpose.

Moreover, such an interpretation of the crime runs counter to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, according to which the permissible limits of critical statements against officials are much wider.

Obviously, Narek Samsonyan and Vazgen Saghatelyan are political prisoners and must be immediately released, while the incumbent authorities continue to use the “grave insults” instrument to silence and punish their opponents.”



Source Panorama.am
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