NKR Ombudsman: I Can State that We Did A Step Forward

 The day of the constitutional referendum in Artsakh is February 20. Our partner “Armedia’’ IAA talked to the Ombudsman of NKR, Ruben Melikyan, about the upcoming constitutional referendum in Artsakh.

- Mr. Melikyan, how would you assess the process of development of the draft constitutional reforms?

- Initially, a committee was formed based on the legal act of the NKR President and by the supervision of the President of the NKR National Assembly.  When I was elected as an Ombudsman in May, the committee resumed its work, as it stopped working because of the April War. First, the concept was developed, which, in two versions, was presented for public discussion, then the Constitution was drafted. The citizens of NKR, surely, had the opportunity to participate in the process that was quite transparent and in full compliance with international standards, known to me.

- Does the transition to a presidential system contain any risk from the perspective of human rights and democratization in NKR?

- From human rights perspective, all the forms of government, with their sub variants, we know, may work either good or bad in terms of human rights protection. There is no government model that is either worse or better in terms of human rights. Another issue is how we can shape legislation to ensure human rights guarantees. And this is what I am more interested in, and which I am more focused on. So we are going a step further with the Constitution. And I state this as a bystander because I have not been involved in the committee and I only watched from the side. I can explain my such a conclusion.

The new rights have been formed, for example, personal data privacy rights. In addition the rights limitation mechanisms have been specified, since any human right is in direct connection with the rights of others and the public interests. And human rights system can be effectively used, only if it is balanced. Besides, a more correct and modern approach is demonstrated towards human rights in general. We are dealing with two types of rights. First, the fundamental rights (the right of life, freedom and so on), towards which the state has obligations regardless of anything. The state has positive and negative obligations.

Positive means certain obligations to take some actions and negative means certain obligations to refrain from some actions. Besides, there are also social and economic rights, the obligation of state in those rights comes in accordance to its real economic and financial opportunities. And this differentiation is very clearly stated in the draft constitution. Considering all this, I can state that we have a step forward.

-  What will be the meaning of NKR constitutional reforms for the democracy development in NKR?

- From human rights perspective it we will be another nation-wide event, which can once more prove that NKR is an established state. The expression of the will of its citizens through participation in the constitutional referendum already displays it. The next step of independence is the adoption of the Constitution (irrespective of the type of the expressed will), which in turn confirms the will of the people of Artsakh expressed still in 1991.