Peace Dialogue NGOs suggestions on the draft action plan of the RA Ministry of Defense for the Human Rights protection for the period 2017-2019

In response to the announcement posted on the RA Ministry of Defense website inviting non-governmental organizations to send proposals for designing a draft action plan for the period of 2017-2019 stemming from the provisions of the strategy for the protection of Human Rights, Peace Dialogue NGO sent the following suggestions to the RA Ministry of Defense.

1. Raising awareness and improving knowledge of human rights and fundamental freedoms:

1.1     Human rights are to be included as a compulsory school subjectin the curricula of educational institutions under the Ministry of Defense authorization (for example, the RA MoD Military Institute after Vazgen Sargsyan)

1.2     Geneva Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War as well as the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 to be included in the curricula of the above mentioned institutions.

1.3     Regularly organize human rights trainings with the involvement of local and international experts for the senior and junior officers serving in the armed forces (if such initiatives have been implemented or are still being implemented to insure their continuity and consistency.

2. Protection of human rights to ensure the maximum transparency of management.

2.1     To remove the information that does not contain state secrets and is not a threat to national security from the list of Encrypted informationprovided by Executive Order N9 of the Ministry of Defense; offense, infringement of the right to life, torture and ill-treatment cases make available to the public.

2.2     Highlighting thepractical application of the Law on Alternative Service as a mechanism for the protection of freedom of thought, freedom of conscience and religion, we propose to develop measures to raise the level of awareness of the public regarding the application of the law.For example, in all the military commissariats of Armenia, in visible areas, post informative materials and posters about the possibility of an alternative service and the opportunity of replacing the compulsory military service with alternative military service within the 6 months of being drafted into the army.

2.3     Submit a proposal to the RA Government and National Assembly for the establishment of the institution of an independent military ombudsman.

2.4    Corruption risks in the RA Armed forces provide a soil for human rights violations: we suggest, with the involvement of the local and international experts, to develop and publish a strategic plan to combat corruption in the armed forces, then, to provide a basis for monitoring the implementation of the strategy by public institutions.

2.5     Submit a proposal to the RA Government for establishing a monitoring group in the military units under the supervision of the RA Armed Forces which, if necessary, will be able to visit the military police detentions for the protection of the detained soldiers.

2.6     Provide regular reports to public regarding the actions and the measures taken by the defense department in the framework of the National Strategy of the Human Rights.

3. About the proper health care and medical service in the Armed Forces.

3.1    In order to ensure the right to health of servicemen, introduce a system for compulsory medical examination before the demobilization of the servicemen (just like it is carried out during the recruitment process), which will allow for thestudyof the dynamics of the soldiers’ health so that in cases where there has been health deterioration during the mandatory military service MoD assumes the obligation for taking care of that problem.

4. About the implementation of the electoral rights of servicemen.

4.1     The protection of the electoral rights in the army must be reviewed to excludeany influence on the free will of the soldiers by the actions or inaction of the commanders.  All the candidates should have an equal opportunity to provide their promotional materials to the servicemen; all the servicemen must be free to use their right to vote or not to use. It is also necessary to provide real oversight of the mentioned measures.

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