In response to the Armenian government’s legislative proposal to deprive the Human Rights Defender’s Office (HRDO) of its financial safeguards and a dramatic increase in harassment of civil society organizations (CSOs) by opponents of democratic reform in Armenia, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The Armenian authorities must ensure the unobstructed functioning of democratic and human rights institutions in the country, including civil society,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Europe & Eurasia at Freedom House. “In addition to a disinformation campaign to smear civil society as a whole launched by opponents of democratic reform, the government is attempting to cut the funding independence of the HRDO. These troubling developments will only exacerbate Armenia’s political crisis.”
In light of the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh and the current political crisis, it is more important than ever to preserve the ability of the HRDO and CSOs to raise awareness of the human rights violations committed during the conflict and call out restrictions on fundamental freedoms in the country. The Armenian authorities should support the HRDO and CSOs by maintaining active dialogue with them, upholding the rule of law, and holding the perpetrators of violence and hate speech to account.