A constitutional referendum will be held in Armenia on December 6. According to the new draft constitution, Armenia assumes responsibility for the protection of human rights. Let us see to what extent it is true.
The degree of protection of privacy of communication, correspondence and telephone conversations has been fairly narrowed by the new draft of the constitution. By the current Constitution, that right can be limited only by court decision. The draft stipulates that the communication privacy can be limited without court decision when it is necessary for state security protection and is conditioned by the special status of the communicators stipulated by law. And it is unclear what is considered “special status of communicators”.
By the current Constitution, it is assumed that in some special cases, marches and demonstrations can be held by notifying the Municipality within a very short period or without notification at all. Those are urgent and spontaneous assemblies, the right of which is often used by protestors. However, the new draft of the constitution stipulates that in the cases envisaged by law, the assemblies shall be held based on the notification submitted within a reasonable period. This implies that there cannot be spontaneous or urgent assemblies anymore.
By the new draft constitution, the citizen can challenge the contradictions of laws with the 2nd chapter of the Constitution in the Constitutional Court. But, for instance, the provision on the right to dignity has been removed from that chapter and, consequently, the citizen cannot challenge laws degrading his/her dignity in the Constitutional Court.
According to the new draft of the constitution, multiple rights can be restricted for national security, public order, health, ethics, and other purposes. Those rights include: the right to marry, the right to privacy, communication, inviolability of the residence, freedom of movement, freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of assemblies, and many other freedoms. However, to put it mildly, it is incomprehensible how the freedom of speech could possibly harm somebody’s health, or how the right to marry could harm state security.