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The discussion of human rights in the RA National Assembly was accompanied by a noisy incident

On April 5th, the RA National Assembly Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs initiated parliamentary hearings on the Human Rights National Agenda: United Nations Universal Periodic Review “. On the initiative of Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia Arman Tatoyan and the UN Office in Armenia.


The hearings agenda included three issues: fair trials and judicial reform issues, issues related to the protection of persons with disabilities and children’s rights. The hearings, however, were not limited to the mentioned agenda, and other human rights issues were also voiced during the speeches, which was accompanied by an incident, which in essence shaded the importance of the whole discussion. WomenNet.am presents the key issues raised during the hearings, also referring to the great fuss and the consequences.


“This event is aimed at promoting cooperation between all state authorities, NGOs and international and diplomatic structures. The parliament plays an important role in the implementation of the international commitments undertaken by the state, including the prioritization of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review in the national legislation and political processes. But I find it important to underline that the role of the parliament in the field of human rights is not limited to the legislative functions alone, it is also of great importance to the oversight of the executive power and especially to the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups. Although I have to admit that the parliament is not always able to exercise its oversight function on the executive, especially in such sensitive and vulnerable areas, “ said Naira Zohrabyan.


In his turn Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia Arman Tatoyan noted that the event is unique and is an example of best international practice. The Ombudsman expressed confidence that it would also be the best platform for discussing human rights issues with national and international partners.


Tatoyan agreed with the Chair of the Commission that the elimination of stereotypes is important in this regard, as the phenomenon makes the society vulnerable.


Ambassador Piotr Svitalski, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, also highlighted the organization of the event, noting that the inclusion of debate on human rights issues is a priority for the European Union, and the voice of civil society should be heard in the field-related discussions. According to him, relations between the European Union and Armenia are based on common and universal values, and human rights are an integral part of those universal values.


Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Artak Apitonyan presented the commitments and fulfillment of Armenia’s commitments, noting that 313 out of 360 submitted proposals were received.


According to the UN Resident Coordinator in Armenia, Shamby Sharp, parliaments have a great role to play in realizing community expectations, and have important oversight by the government in fulfilling human rights commitments.


Agenda and human rights? what is the priority?

During the hearings, an incident was recorded between the chair of the commission Naira Zohrabyan and one of the participants, as well as the transgender Lilit Martirosyan, representative of  NGO. The latter at the beginning of her speech stated that she is a transgender woman and will speak from the high tribune of the National Assembly as a collective image of the raped, tortured, and murdered. She complained that 283 cases of violence were registered against them, but the police did not respond properly.


This speech was followed by Naira Zohrabyan’s observation that Lilit Martirosyan broke the agenda, thus showing disrespect towards the parliament. In response to this, replies were heard by those accompanying Lilit Martirosyan, on Zohrabyan’s assertion that the speaker was speaking out of the topic. Then they left the hall together with Lilit Martirosyan.


The following day, a number of human rights organizations issued a statement in which they assessed the reaction of Naira Zohrabyan, the Chair of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Public Affairs, to the speech by translator Lilit Martirosyan as discriminatory, demanding to invite the NA Ethics Committee and investigate the incident as well as review Naira Zohrabyan’s post the expediency of occupying it. In response, Zohrabyan said that his complaint was related only to the violation of the agenda. ” I just kept the regulations and recorded that I would not let some people, some groups try to use the parliament to make a prediction …”


She also noted that she does not demonstrate any discrimination and  everyone, including those involved in transgender persons’ rights, could apply to the commission to discuss their issues if, of course, the committee agreed.


It should be noted that the topic has been discussed in social networks for several days now. There are opposite opinions, including quite aggressive … Today a group of citizens held a protest action in front of NA against the speech of Transgender.

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