At a glance
The Human Rights Programme of the OSCE Office in Yerevan closely follows the human rights situation in Armenia, assisting the national stakeholders in their efforts to implement OSCE Human Dimension Commitments. The Programme works on the promotion of legislative, policy and institutional reforms, capacity building, experience exchange and awareness-raising activities.
The Office has been assisting the Human Rights Defender's Office (HDRO) since its establishment in 2004 through capacity-building exercises, exchange of experience and organization of discussions on human rights issues to raise public awareness of the role of the institution. The Office through the EU-funded project strengthens the capacity of the institution in electoral processes and supports the operation of six regional offices of the institution in Yeghegnadzor, Kapan, Gavar, Ijevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor. The Office maintans the hotline of the institution and supported creation of Rapid Reaction Groups throughout the electoral cycle. The Office facilitates operation of the National Preventive Mechanism to undertake focused preventive visits with the broader involvement of the civil society and better outreach to the regions. Together with the HRDO and the Ministry of Justice the Office assists in drafting list of actions for the National Human Rights Strategy.
The Office promotes criminal justice and judicial reforms by lending support to the judiciary, the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Chamber of Advocates to improve access to justice, fair trial standards and strengthen judicial independence. In particular, it facilitates capacity building, supports legal and institutional reforms and networking opportunities. The Office in co-operation with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) provides legal expertise with respect to legislation and recommendations for strengthening the independence of the judiciary in the overall context of the legal and justice reforms strategy for 2012-2016, and supported drafting the new Criminal Procedure Code. In the framework of the Memorandum of Co-operation with the Office of the Prosecutor General, the Office provides expert advice and recommendations to further reforms in this area. The Office co-operates with the Chamber of Advocates l to strengthen its capacity on a wide range of human rights issues.
In the field of human rights in administration of justice focusing on Governmental Strategy on Legal and Judicial Reforms for 2012-2016 the Programme aims to strengthen the capacity of policy-makers to elaborate legislation in line with international standards and policy recommendations. Particularly, research and baseline studies and experience exchange activities are being supported striving to increase the use of alternatives to detention or imprisonment, to establish the probation service, and reform the system of early conditional release through introduction of international human rights standards and good practices of OSCE participating States. The Office also reinforces the monitoring capacity and legal expertise of civil society organizations (CSO), including member organizations of the Public Monitoring Group for Penitentiary Institutions, to engage in reform processes and contribute to increased transparency of the respective systems.
Promotion of child-friendly standards in justice administration, both concerning legislation and practice is at the focus of Office’s attention. Projects in partnership with CSOs aimed to boost state re-socialization and preparation for release schemes of inmates and particularly vocational training modules as envisaged in the State Crime Prevention Programme are being supported in some penitentiary institutions for adult prisoners and a separate one where juveniles are serving their sentences.
The Programme promotes human rights education and raises legal awareness through various initiatives and targeting different clusters and agents for change. On the basis of a Memorandum with the Ministry of Education and Science, the Office renders assistance for promotion of human rights education through tailored capacity-building activities for secondary school teachers and human rights specialists implemented in co-operation with CSOs taking into account ODIHR guidelines on human rights education.
The Office simultaneously strengthens the capacity of relevant state bodies to implement Human Dimension Commitments in the area of human rights education for the armed forces personnel and fosters the co-operation and dialogue among state, educational and CSOs. Particularly, on the basis of the translated OSCE/ODIHR and DCAF Handbook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel and elaborated training manual and building upon the results of the pilot project on training of trainers for armed forces personnel conducted in close co-operation with Defence Ministry the Office continues promotion of human rights education in formal and informal educational settings.
The Office in the area of freedom of religion or belief aims to strengthen the capacity of religious or belief communities, state bodies and CSOs to promote and protect the right to freedom of religion or belief. Particularly, the Office promotes accurate and ethical media reporting through capacity-building exercises for journalists on freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression, professional ethics, as well as OSCE and international human rights standards in the field to help the media representatives to effectively address challenges of legal nature in their work. Different forums for discussion are also being organized to strengthen the adherence of legislation and practice to OSCE human dimension commitments and facilitate an inclusive legislative drafting process, particularly in the process of reform of the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations. Likewise, the Office facilitates the processes of obtaining legal assessments of draft changes and amendments to the Law on Alternative Service from OSCE/ODIHR.
The Office in co-operation with the Government Staff Department on National Minorities and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports the projects on awareness raining of persons belonging to national minorities of their rights and strengthens the capacity CSOs to promote their rights. Initiatives, conferences and forums lending opportunity for national minority communities to address their requests to relevant state agencies related to the maintenance and development of their culture and preservation of the essential elements of identity are provided to strengthen the adherence to OSCE human dimension commitments are being created.