Armenia’s constitution provides for a republic with an elected head of state and a unicameral legislature, the National Assembly. The Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) held a majority of seats in the National Assembly, and with President Serzh Sargsyan as leader, continued to dominate the country’s political scene. The country held a presidential election in 2013 and legislative elections in 2012. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) described the presidential election as well administered but with shortcomings, including an uneven playing field, some serious election-day violations, and concerns about the integrity of the electoral process. Similar flaws marred the 2012 National Assembly elections. Civilian authorities maintained effective control of the security forces.
The most significant human rights problems during the year were officials’ use of government resources to maintain the dominance of the ruling RPA, use of economic and political power by the country’s elite to enrich supporters and to corrupt the law enforcement and judicial systems, and limited judicial independence. During the December 6 constitutional referendum, local and international observers, members of civil society, and journalists reported witnessing numerous types of electoral violations, including use of administrative resources, multiple voting, ballot-box stuffing, and the intimidation of commission members and observers by officials. As of December 18, the Republic of Armenia Investigative Committee (RAIC) had initiated 34 criminal cases stemming from the referendum.
Other reported problems and abuses included suspicious deaths in the military under noncombat conditions and continued bullying and mistreatment of conscripts by officers and fellow soldiers without accountability. Police employed torture and mistreatment to obtain confessions and reportedly beat and abused citizens during arrest and interrogation. Some prisons were overcrowded, unsanitary, and lacking in medical services for inmates. Authorities continued to arrest and detain persons arbitrarily and without reasonable suspicion. Trials were often lengthy, and courts failed to enforce laws providing for fair trials. Authorities did not adequately enforce laws prohibiting government intrusion of privacy and unlawful searches. The media lacked diversity of political opinion, and most outlets reflected government views. Self-censorship was a problem. There were credible reports that police targeted journalists at citizens’ protests. Authorities’ respect for freedom of assembly was uneven. The roles of senior officials in the governance of prominent academic institutions and the politicization of student activities inhibited academic freedom. Authorities restricted freedom to participate in the political process and political pluralism. Government restrictions affected some minority religious groups, and members of religious minorities suffered from societal discrimination. Domestic violence remained a problem. A significant imbalance in the birth ratio of boys to girls pointed to gender-biased sex selection. Human trafficking was a problem. Persons with disabilities experienced discrimination in almost all areas of life. Officials, including police and military and prison authorities, subjected lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons to abuse and discrimination with impunity; they also experienced societal violence and discrimination. Society stigmatized persons with HIV/AIDS. The government limited workers’ rights and weakly enforced labor laws.
Although the government took some steps to punish officials in the security forces and elsewhere for human rights abuses, officials often continued to commit abuses with impunity. Authorities did not hold anyone accountable for the 10 deaths that occurred following postelection clashes in 2008.