Armenia’s constitution provides for a republic with an elected head of state and a unicameral legislature, the National Assembly. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers described the campaign leading to May 6 legislative elections as competitive but concluded violations of campaign provisions created an unequal playing field for participants and ran counter to the OSCE commitments. The ruling coalition, led by President Sargsian’s Republican Party of Armenia, continued to dominate the political system. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
The most significant human rights problems during the year were limitations on the right of citizens to change their government, corruption and lack of transparency in government, and the limited independence of the judiciary. Flaws in the conduct of May 6 legislative elections included the misuse of government resources to support the ruling party, credible allegations of vote buying, deficiencies in the complaints and appeals process, and continued shortcomings in the electoral code despite improvements. Allegations of persistent corruption at all levels of government undermined the rule of law, although the government took limited steps to punish low- to mid-level official corruption. Courts remained subject to political pressure from the executive branch, which resulted in some politically motivated prosecutions and sentencing.
Other abuses reported during the year included suspicious deaths in the military under noncombat conditions, continued hazing and other mistreatment of conscripts by officers and fellow soldiers, and a lack of accountability for such actions. Police allegedly continued to employ torture to obtain confessions and reportedly beat citizens during arrest and interrogation. Many prisons were overcrowded, unsanitary, and lacking in medical services for inmates. Authorities continued to arrest and detain criminal suspects without reasonable suspicion and to detain individuals arbitrarily. Trials were often prolonged, and courts failed to enforce laws providing for fair trials. Laws against government intrusion on the right to privacy and unlawful searches were inadequately enforced. The
pre-election period was marked by diverse media coverage; however, the media continued to lack diversity of political opinion and objective reporting outside the campaign period. Members of religious minorities suffered from societal discrimination. Domestic violence remained a problem but largely went unreported to authorities. Human trafficking was a problem, which authorities made efforts to combat. 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. Workers’ rights were limited and 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. The government issued a report in December 2011 on its investigation into the deaths of eight civilians and two police officers following the 2008 presidential election but, as of year’s end, had not held anyone accountable.