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YEREVAN. – The draft bill restricting confidentiality of communication and other rights that was offered by the Armenian government will become a background for active involvement and restrictions of human rights, Armenian Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan said in a statement.

The Ombudsman studied the bills and submitted to the Ministry of Justice preliminary written proposals and comments. The details were discussed during a working meeting on Sunday, March 29.

A part of proposals and observations was accepted, the Ombudsman said, adding that he still had questions and remarks of crucial significance. Therefore, Tatoyan believed it was necessary to make public his approaches and offers in connections with the regulations suggested in the draft bill.

“The human rights defender realizes clearly that in this situation, and even more so in the context of the declared emergency situation, the government needs effective measures to prevent a new type of coronavirus (COVID-19) and to combat its further spread. All this, however, does not mean that the processes of preventing infection and combating its spread should make us forget about fundamental and, especially, constitutional rights and freedoms,” he said.

International community has a clear position in this regard, which states that no matter how appealing the idea to restrict the rights and freedoms is, the government should not allow this. Tatoyan recalled that international agencies such as UN, Council of Europe, OSCE/ODIHR and others, have been repeatedly stating it is unacceptable to ignore the main demands by the member states.

“The regulations proposed by the Cabinet in the draft law on amendments to the law “On the Legal Regime of a State of Emergency” impose restrictions on the constitutional rights of a person and are accompanied by deviations from the obligations undertaken by Armenia under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The matter refers to such rights as the protection of personal data, respect for private and family right, freedom of communication. Of course, the study of a draft bill indicates that a question may arise about the restriction of other rights (for example, the right to personal freedom of a person isolated at the request of the state),” he said.

The Constitution as well as the European Convention on Human Rights and other international treaties ratified by Armenia provide the government with the opportunity to restrict certain rights, however, restriction of rights and freedoms cannot be  left to the discretion of the government, as they must comply with the Constitution of Armenia and the standards established by the European Convention and other international treaties.

Ombudsman added that one of the proposed options regarding the regulations is that the police will deal with the matter, but there must be a special note in the draft bill. In this case, it will be clear that, for example, if a doctor of a regional medical facility, who has discovered a person infected with coronavirus, will report this to the police, which, in turn, will start acting.

“It is obvious that individuals who are isolated or self-isolated in certain situations will be deprived of their freedom. Therefore, the question will arise of guaranteeing their right to personal freedom,” he said.

Tatoyan wonders what will happen if one of the family members is infected with coronavirus.

“What will happen to other family members? Will the infected person be isolated from the family and will be transported to another place? If no, how his contacts with the family will be regulated?” he said.

Обоснования принятия проекта необходимо доработать так, чтобы они дали ответы на основные вопросы, связанные с применением предлагаемого механизма или, по крайней мере, связанные с ним. Обоснования должны быть четкими, с анализом, касающимся конкретных ограничений, предусмотренных законопроектом, в том числе исходящего из конкретного международного опыта и стандартов».

The justifications for the application of the proposed mechanism have to be clear, Tatoyan resumed.

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