ECtHR received the complaints of ‘Sari Tagh’ district protesters10:29, August 7, 2017 | News, Own news | Freedom of Assembly and Association, Right to an Effective Remedy of Legal Protection, Right to liberty and security | Sasna Tsrer
By its letters of June 16 and July 12, 2017, the European Court of Human Rights stated that the ECtHR received the complaints of ‘Sari Tagh’ district protesters Gagik Mikayelyan and Hovhannes Ghazaryan.
The complaints were filed with the European Court of Human Rights by their defense attorney Ani Chatinyan, lawyer at HCA Vanadzor.
G. Mikayelyan and Hovh. Ghazaryan were arrested in July 2016 on charges of throwing stones at police officers; later, HCA Vanadzor took on protection of their rights.
After over 10 months in detention, G. Mikayelyan was first sentenced to 3 years in prison and then released in the courtroom by the ruling of the RA Court of Criminal Appeals of May 10, 2017. The Court allowed him to serve his sentence outside penitentiary facilities.
As for Hovh. Ghazaryan’s case, the Court has not made any judgment yet; he was detained for months and then was released from detention only by the ruling of the RA Court of Appeals of February 13, 2017.
The complaints filed with the European Court of Human Rights contained grounds that the RA courts’ rulings on keeping G. Mikayelyan and Hovh. Ghazaryan in detention were not properly justified. Particularly, the defense party’s motions on changing the preventive measure and motions on bail were rejected by the courts that found without any grounds that those persons might avoid investigation.
However, later in its rulings on replacing the preventive measure of detention with written undertaking not to leave, the Court of Criminal Appeals was guided by the very facts mentioned many times in the motions of the defense party. However, the courts of first instance paid no attention to those facts when they chose detention as a preventive measure. It is noteworthy that in its ruling on reversing the first instance court’s ruling on Hovh. Ghazaryan’s detention, the RA Court of Criminal Appeals stated: “There is no much likelihood that Hovh. Ghazaryan would have any impact on the police officers who testified against him.” In both cases, the protesters were detained only based on police officers’ testimonies.
In this context, according to the applicants, the right to liberty and security of person enshrined in Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights was violated.
The applicants also provided grounds on violation of Articles 11 and 13 of the ECHR.
According to the applicants, detaining protesters for months aimed to interfere with their freedom of assembly and association under Article 11 of the ECHR, the more so considering that the charges brought against them under Article 225 of the RA Criminal Code have nothing to do with their actions: they had no intention to damage the police officers by throwing stones and there is no evidence of the opposite in the case. When ruling on detention, the courts did not examine even the videos showing the protesters taking the said actions, but were guided only by the testimonies of the police officers.
G. Mikayelyan and Hovh. Ghazaryan were also deprived of the right to an effective legal remedy under Article 13 of the ECHR. All the motions and complaints against applying detention as a preventive measure were rejected for months.
The ECtHR will examine the protesters’ complaints at the first opportunity.