December 07
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The most significant human rights problems in Armenia were limitations on citizens’ right to change their government, freedom of speech and press, and the independence of the judiciary, State Department said in its annual report.

On Thursday U.S. Department of State published the 2011 Annual Human Rights Reports. Here is a summary of the report on Armenia:

“The government released the remaining six opposition members detained in connection with the 2008 clashes between security forces and protesters disputing the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. Since April 28 the government began permitting demonstrations and opposition rallies in previously restricted areas of the capital city, and all were held without incident, although demonstrators from outside of Yerevan at times were impeded in their attempts to travel to rallies.

The media, in particular television, continued to lack diversity of political opinion and objective reporting. The government decriminalized libel and defamation but established high new civil fines that encouraged journalists and media outlets to practice self-censorship. The process used to switch from analog to digital television reduced media pluralism. Courts remained subject to political pressure from the executive branch, and judges operated in a judicial culture that expected courts to find the accused guilty in almost every case.

During the year suspicious deaths occurred in the military under noncombat conditions, while hazing and other mistreatment of conscripts by officers and fellow soldiers, and a lack of accountability for such actions, continued. Allegations of torture continued. Many prisons were overcrowded, unsanitary, and lacking in medical services for inmates. Police reportedly beat citizens during arrest and interrogation. Authorities continued to arrest and detain criminal suspects without reasonable suspicion and to detain individuals arbitrarily due to their opposition political affiliations or political activities.

Authorities and laws restricted religious freedom for certain groups. Corruption remained a problem, with authorities taking limited measures to curb it. Domestic violence remained a problem but largely went unreported to authorities. Human trafficking was a problem, but authorities made efforts to combat it. Persons with disabilities experienced discrimination in almost all areas of life. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons were subjected to societal abuse and discrimination by military and prison authorities. There were reports of forced labor. Workers’ rights were limited and existing labor laws weakly enforced.

Although the government took some steps to punish officials in the security forces and elsewhere who committed abuses, some members of the security forces continued to commit human rights abuses with impunity while under the direction of civilian leadership. A government-issued report on the deaths of eight civilians and two police officers killed in the 2008 postelection violence did not identify the individuals responsible for the deaths and largely justified the police response.”

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