At today’s session of the Government of Armenia it was decided to repeal Resolution 1818-A of the Government of the Republic of Armenia dated August 8, 2019 on “Agreeing to Grant Community Property Land Ownership with Free Property Rights”. This decision applies to the notorious “City of Children” project.

It should be reminded that, on August 8, a decision was made to gratuitously allocate space to the Armenian Caritas NGO in Shahumyan and Taperakan communities of Ararat province. It intended to create a city for socially vulnerable families and children with disabilities.

The project, called the City of Children, was intended to provide “safe accommodation for about 600 children with disabilities and socially disadvantaged families and their families, and there may be up to 8,000 intermediary beneficiaries from other provinces and the capital of Armenia.”

The program clearly contradicted the RA Constitution, the UN Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the program approved by the Government of the Republic of Armenia on February 8, 2019, and a number of other programs currently being implemented by the Armenian government.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of the Republic of Armenia, the Office of the Human Rights Defender and a number of human rights organizations expressed negative position on the program.

The draft was submitted to the public’s discussion on the e-draft site after making several changes. In particular, the wording of “persons with disabilities” was omitted from the draft, coming up with the phrase “multifaceted capacity building functions”.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, which has expressed a negative stance on the program from the very first day, is still of the same opinion. “We consider this a program of isolation that does not fully reflect our understanding of inclusion,” the ministry said in an interview with Forrights.

Minister Zaruhi Batoyan’s spokeswoman Sona Martirosyan stated that, as long as questions remain inexplicable to the ministry, they will not change their initial stance:

“The mere fact that the program is designed for socially disadvantaged people and people with disabilities already violates all inclusion rules. We have never been in favor of this plan, but have instead suggested to make some changes to it. There is not just one problem we see here; they are numerous,” Martirosyan said.

The RA Ombudsman in his turn expressed concern about the positive conclusion of the RA Government on the “City of Children” program. According to the Defender’s position, the project contradicts the child’s best interests and Armenia’s international obligations.

“Implementation of the project in this way will contribute to the deepening of stereotypes and stigma towards children with disabilities and socially insecure children,” Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan expressed his concerns.

It is planned to carry out revision of the project, and, if necessary, the issue of allocation of new land will be discussed.

Roza Vardanyan

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