The legal overload in the protection of environment on the state and on the citizen is incompatible in Armenia: the state authorities have rights and don't bear any responsibilities, while citizens have obligations only,' stated Environmental Lawyer Nazeli Vardanyan, Director of 'Forests of Armenia' NGO at 'South Caucasus Chalk Circle' conference held in Tbilisi. In her speech on the protection of 'green' lights she outlined that the Armenian Constitution adopted in 2015 took Armenia several steps behind and, as a matter of fact, deprived its people of their 'green' rights. 'At the end of 2015 Armenia adopted a new constitution, where Article 33.2 was crossed out – the human right to live in healthy and favourabloe environment. This article was introduced into the Constitution of Armenia in 2005 as a result of the lobbying of non-governmental organizations. This article ensured citizens' right to healthy environment and this entitled them to sue and protect their rights,' Nazeli Vardanyan said.
The Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Armenia prescribes that the land, soil, water and other natural resources are the ownership of the people. Decisions, which are reached against the Declaration, are illegal. If people are seized their land areas, for example, for mining purposes or energetic purposes or take water, and people don't get anything for that, as a matter of fact, their 'green' rights are violated,' she outlined.
She also mentioned that Armenia had ratified the Aarhus Convention, where right to information and right to participation in decision-making on environmental matters are fixed.
''We have already received several warnings from the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee. It mainly says that the judicial protection shall be real, as it is declared in the international rights, the Convention on Human Rights and in our constitution. The practice also showed application to court is often blocked. We have adopted a new law on non-governmental organizations, which has an article saying that an NGO is entitled to apply to a court, but the law has numerous limitations. The most important thing is that the NGO can't appeal the ruling, if it didn't take part in the discussion process. But there were cases when we were not allowed to take part in the discussions. Whatever the situation is, we shall fight for our 'green' rights, as they are vitally integral rights,' Nazeli Vardanyan concluded.
14:48 March 10, 2017