Armenian opposition activist jailed


Armenia’s authorities should release a political activist who was arrested during a public gathering on January 1, 2016, and placed in pretrial detention, pending an impartial investigation into the charges against him, Human Rights Watch said today:

The authorities should also review police conduct at the gathering and possible police interference with the rights to freedom of thought, expression, and assembly.

Police arrested Gevorg Safaryan at Yerevan’s Freedom Square at about 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day, amid a scuffle during a public event organized by members of the New Armenia Movement, a political opposition group. The authorities charged Safaryan with using violence against the police, and on January 3, a court granted a police investigator’s request to hold Safaryan in pretrial custody for two months…. In a January 5 letter to Armenia’s prosecutor general, Human Rights Watch expressed concern about the charges against and pretrial detention of Safaryan and called for his release pending an investigation.

“Given the minor nature of the incident, two months of pretrial custody is wholly unjustified,” said Giorgi Gogia, South Caucasus director at Human Rights Watch. “Pretrial detention should be a last resort, not the general rule, and only in cases where there is a well-founded fear that the person will evade justice or hinder the investigation.”

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