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A Negative Norm on Religious Organizations in the New Draft Constitution

Looking through the New Draft Constitution some articles puzzled and disappointed me. How is it possible to make such kind of serious mistakes when drawing up the Constitution, and to ascribe such an exclusive property to the State by prohibiting the RA citizens to possess it freely and independently in the case when it is passed the enemy? Let me explain thoroughly: the new Constitution stipulates the freedom of all religious organizations without applying limiting Articles 17 and 41 if necessary.

The State and Religious Organizations

1. The freedom of activity shall be guaranteed in the Republic of Armenia for the religious organizations.

2. In the Republic of Armenia, religious organizations shall be separate from the state.

Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion

1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. This right shall include the freedom to change one’s religion or beliefs and the freedom, either alone or in community with others in public or in private, to manifest religion or belief in preaching, church ceremonies, and other rituals of worship or in other forms.

2. The expression of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion may be restricted only by law with the aim of protecting state security, the public order, health and morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

3. Every citizen for whom military service contradicts his religion or beliefs shall have the right to replace it with alternative service in the procedure prescribed by law.

4. Religious organizations shall have equal rights and shall enjoy autonomy. The procedure of creation and operation of religious organizations shall be prescribed by law.

Such kind of blatant discrimination is simply unacceptable in the case when implementing such rights as freedom of movement, expression, assemblies etc. the Constitution stipulates that the freedom of assembly may be restricted only by law with the aim of protecting state security and the public order, preventing crime, protecting health and morals, and protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

The right to freedom of movement may be restricted only by law with the aim of protecting state security, the public order, health and morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others or preventing and detecting crimes.

Why isn’t there any possibility to restrict the activity of the religious organizations the aim of protecting state security, the public order, health and morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others? Or to stipulates the property constitutionally and at the same time impose its “refusal”, Article 60, Right to Property. In other words, it gives an opportunity to suppress all kinds of demonstrations and public protests which will be against the implementation of arbitrary decisions taken by the State, as are the protests against pension funds, increasing of electricity and transport fees. In this case, I think that the new Constitution will not serve the people and the need of its adoption remains unclear. Not wanting to turn to the other provisions I only want to add that the Constitution must serve to the society and the security of the state, rather than the needs of some people and in favor of the international community.

The application of the terms defined by Article 91 is unclear:

Article 91. Regular Election of the National Assembly

1. A regular election of the National Assembly shall be held no earlier than 60 and no later than 50 days before the end of the term of office of the National Assembly.

2. During martial law or a state of emergency, election of the National Assembly shall not be held. In this case, the regular election to the National Assembly shall be held no sooner than fifty and no later than sixty days after the end of the state of emergency or martial law.

Tigran Matevosyan

Lawyer

Iravaban.net

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