January 16, 2020 - 12:33 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Armenian government has embarked on an ambitious reform agenda, including tackling corruption and reforming the economic and justice sectors. However, investigations into past violence and excessive use of force by law enforcement remained limited, Human Rights Watch says in its country round-up for 2019.
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan swept to office in 2018 after popular protests, further consolidated his power following the December 2018 snap parliamentary elections, which international observers found genuinely competitive and in line with international standards.
The report says violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, discrimination against and segregation of people with disabilities, and domestic violence persisted.
"Armenia’s police have a long record of impunity for using excessive force to break up largely peaceful protests. Authorities revived an investigation into the 2008 deadly clashes between protesters and security forces, and in June 2019, charged a high-ranking official with murdering a protester while security forces were breaking up a demonstration," HRW says.
"However, investigations into two episodes of excessive police force against largely peaceful demonstrators and journalists in 2016 and 2015 remained suspended. Authorities claimed they were unable to identify the alleged perpetrators."
Domestic violence persisted as a serious problem in 2019, says the report. According to official data, during the first half of 2019, authorities investigated 331 criminal domestic violence cases, including 176 that were newly initiated. They brought charges in 209 cases and sent 45 cases to courts.
"But in most cases, authorities do not protect women and child survivors of domestic violence, jeopardizing their lives and well-being," the organization says.
Armenia made progress in transforming some residential institutions for children into community centers and supporting family-based care. The country aims to have fully inclusive education by 2025, whereby children with and without disabilities study together in community schools. Despite progress, many children with disabilities remain segregated in separate special schools or classrooms, or isolated in home education.