The United Nations human rights chief today voiced deep concern at reports that at least eight people have been killed and many others injured during demonstrations in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, where the results of recent presidential elections have been disputed.
Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued a statement in which she said she was particularly concerned that force was used against peaceful demonstrators yesterday and that opposition protesters have been detained.
Ms. Arbour called on the authorities in Armenia – where a state of emergency has been declared – to “exercise the utmost restraint and to ensure that due process is followed in the case of any detentions.”
The High Commissioner noted that Armenia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which states that, even during states of emergency, fundamental rights such as the right to life and the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment cannot be suspended.
“Any restrictions of rights must be proportionate and may only be applied to the extent and duration strictly warranted by the circumstances,” the statement added.
Protests began in Yerevan after Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan was declared the winner of the 19 February presidential poll, a result that is disputed by the opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan.