Interview with British lawyer Edward Fitzgerald, attorney for the Armenian second president Robert Kocharyan.
Mr. Fitzgerald, since the Armenian second President Robert Kocharyan was arrested in December last year, discussions have been ongoing whether he can be considered a political prisoner. What do you think, whether Mr. Kocharyan is a political prisoner or not?
Since May 2018, when Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan came to power - unfortunately, the human rights situation in Armenia has been deteriorating. Obviously, the government is having problems protecting the rule of law and human rights. The refusal to administer justice in respect of Mr. Kocharyan is arbitrary and, of course, has political subtext.
The term political prisoner was developed within the Council of Europe by independent experts in 2001, with the aim of assessing cases involving alleged political prisoners. The resolution 1900 adopted in 2012 confirmed the term and criteria proposed by independent experts. Since then, the term is periodically applied by the Council of Europe.
Mr. Kocharyan should definitely be considered a political prisoner, since his arrest was carried out with a number of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.
According to the February report of the CE Commissioner for Human Rights, criminal cases initiated in connection with the March 2008 events should be investigated impartially, with respect to the rule of law principle, while the judicial system should be objective, and guarantees of transparency of the trial should be provided. The report urges the Armenian authorities to observe the presumption of innocence and refrain from extremes and insults in public speeches, as it can become an obstacle to the formation of a unified society and create conditions for renewed contradictions of past years.