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Armenia appoints former prosecutor as new human rights defender

12 April 2023
Anahit Manasyan. Photo: Prosecutor's Office

Armenia’s ruling Civil Contract Party has elected a former deputy Prosecutor General, Anahit Manasyan, as the country’s Human Rights Defender.

The election in parliament on Wednesday morning was delayed by a day due to clashes on Tuesday near the border with Azerbaijan.

The Human Rights Defender, meant to be an independent figure responsible for ensuring respect for human rights in the country, is elected for a six-year term by three-fifths of the total number of MPs. 

Only Civil Contract voted for Manasyan, with the opposition Armenia Alliance and I Have Honour blocs refusing to take part after opposing her nomination. 

The parliamentary opposition parties questioned Manasyan’s impartiality and opposed her claims that she ‘will not be politicised and will protect everyone’. 

‘This is not a position for me, it is a responsibility and a mission, and I undertake it with great responsibility,’ Manasyan said in her address to parliament on Tuesday. 

During the debates, the opposition questioned her about several recent incidents. Manasyan refused to comment on an incident in which the Speaker of Parliament, Alen Simonyan, spat on an opposition member for calling him a ‘traitor’. She said she was against ‘hate speech and violence’. 

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[Read more: Armenian Parliament speaker ‘apologises’ for spitting on ARF member]

Manasyan replaces Kristinne Grigoryan, who resigned in late January after serving for only a year, citing her desire to take up a new position. Local media have reported she may be appointed head of foreign intelligence at the National Security Service. 

Grigoryan also faced allegations of political bias and links to the ruling party, as she served as Deputy Justice Minister following the 2018 revolution. 

Manasyan, 34, was appointed Deputy Prosecutor in November 2022. Previously she worked at the Constitutional Court.