On Ensuring the Economic and Social Rights of RA Citizens
June 22, 2017
EaP CSF Armenian National Platform expresses its concern over the lack of efficient cooperation with civil society with regard to the development and implementation of policies aimed at protection of the economic and social rights of RA citizens in Armenia. This results in the violation of a number of economic and social rights stipulated by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and insufficient fulfillment of main provisions of National Strategy on Human Rights Protection.
The above-mentioned is displayed, in particular, in the recently adopted Tax Code, as well as other normative-legal acts shaping fiscal policy. This gives an impression that these acts are aimed exclusively at filling the RA state budget at the expense of the constitutional rights of citizens.
Thus, the RA Tax Code was adopted neglecting most of the opinions of the civil society and business sector representatives, which resulted in that currently it is in active process of amendment and supplement. And again the recommendations on conceptual changes made by the representatives of civil society and expert community and aimed at the exercise of economic and social rights by the RA citizens and legal entities do not get enough attention. The same can be said about the Code on Administrative Offences, which contains unduly heavy fines envisaged for traffic law violations, and a number of provisions impeding the traffic. The collection of local fees for the so-called red lines, which runs contrary to provisions of the Constitution and around 10 normative acts, remains a major problem.
We also express our concern over the recently adopted controversial Law “On Compensation of the Damages Caused to the Servicemen’s Life or Health during the RA Defense”. The law to some extent runs contrary to provisions on mandatory payment of the RA Tax Code, principles of volunteerism, stipulated by the Legislation on Foundations, as well as causes serious administrative problems with regard to the payments collected from and returned to the family members of the servicemen of the RA armed forces.
The above-mentioned allows us to assert that the RA authorities are not consistent enough in their international commitments, including the priorities and goals set by the “Eastern Partnership – Focusing on Key Priorities and Deliverables” joint document adopted in May 2016. The inadequate compliance of the human rights field in the country with international standards, along with other negative consequences, can also affect Armenia’s status as an EU Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+) stakeholder.
In order to address the mentioned issues we call on the RA National Assembly and Government in collaboration with civil society and expert community:
- to improve the respective legal and normative acts ensuring the full-fledged exercise of the economic and social rights of citizens;
- to discuss and revise the Action Plan for 2017-2019 of the National Strategy on Human Rights Protection, approved on May 4, 2017 by the RA Government Decree № 483-N, bringing it in line with the commitments undertaken by the Republic of Armenia, in particular with the EU-Armenia cooperation priorities;
- to establish efficient oversight mechanisms for the consistent implementation of the Strategy, paying particular attention to ensuring the economic and social rights of citizens;
- to engage representatives of civil society in the process of oversight and monitoring of the Strategy.
EaP CSF Armenian National Platform, having a clear vision of addressing the mentioned challenges, is ready to invest its expert potential and organizational capacities in this matter.
Statement on fatalities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Recent violations of the ceasefire resulting in further fatalities on the Line of Contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone are a stark reminder that the status quo is unsustainable.
The Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan have repeatedly committed to the ceasefire and the peaceful settlement of this conflict.
The European Union expects de-escalation and restraint in deeds as well as in words. The European Union fully supports the efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and joins their appeal of 19 June for immediate consideration of measures to reduce tensions in the conflict zone and at the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as re-engagement of the parties in negotiations on substance, in good faith and with the necessary political will.
On 19 June 2017, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum participated in the Eastern Partnership Ministerial Meeting in Luxembourg, represented by Hennadiy Maksak, Co-Chair of the EaP CSF Steering Committee. The meeting, chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, gathered all EU member states’ Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ministers of Foreign Affairs from the six EaP countries and EU officials, including Commissioner Johannes Hahn (European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations).
In his address, Hennadiy Maksak welcomed the recent efforts to further develop and refine the Eastern Partnership as a comprehensive policy. Likewise, he welcomed the enhanced role of the civil society in shaping the Eastern Partnership’s goals and its recognition as a cross-cutting element in the Joint Staff Working Document “Eastern Partnership – 20 deliverables for 2020”, while underlining its important role in communicating with citizens of the respective countries to bring the policy closer to them.
The Co-Chair of the EaP CSF SC also emphasized the role of CSOs as active actors in the implementation of reforms together with the respective governments and called for a greater involvement of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, particularly in policy-making. This is possible thanks to the instruments at disposal of the Forum, such as the EaP Index and ad hoc monitoring missions, which have proved to be effective in providing assessment of the situation on the ground.
Hennadiy Maksak also pointed out the positive developments from the first half of 2017, especially the visa-free regimes granted to Georgia and Ukraine, the newly initialed agreement between the EU and Armenia, as well as the negotiations on the new agreement with Azerbaijan. However, he also voiced the concerns of civil society about the political and economic control exercised by the Russian authorities in the EaP region, and reminded that millions of citizens in the EaP countries still do not enjoy the human rights and democratic values on which the Eastern Partnership has been built.
Having raised a number of critical points, Maksak called on EaP countries’ authorities to address the most important issues in their respective countries, and appealed on the EU institutions to keep the EaP policy at the top of its agenda, as well as to contribute to the stability of the EaP region, crucial to the stability of the EU itself.
Please see the full speech of Hennadiy Maksak following the link below.