Armenia’s constitution provides for a republic with an elected head of state and a unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, US State Department reported.
According to a constitutional referendum conducted in 2015, the country is on track to transition to a parliamentary republic by the end of the existing presidential term in 2018. The Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) held a majority of seats in the National Assembly and, with President Serzh Sargsyan as leader, continued to dominate the country’s political scene. The country held parliamentary elections under the amended constitution on April 2. According to the report issued by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the elections “were well administered and fundamental freedoms were generally respected,” but they were tainted by credible reports of vote buying and pressure on civil servants and employees of private companies. This contributed to an overall lack of public confidence and trust in the elections. The OSCE described the 2013 presidential election as well administered but with shortcomings, including an uneven playing field, serious election-day violations, and concerns regarding the integrity of the electoral process. Similar flaws marred the 2015 constitutional referendum.
Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
The most significant human rights issues included: torture; harsh and life threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of judicial independence; failure to provide fair trials; violence against journalists; interference in freedom of the media, using government legal authority to penalize critical content; physical interference by security forces with freedom of assembly; restrictions on political participation; systemic government corruption; failure to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons from violence; and worst forms of child labor, which the government made minimal efforts to eliminate.
The government conducted only cursory investigations into reports of abuses by officials. Law enforcement officers often committed abuses with impunity, at times under direct orders from law enforcement chiefs. Authorities did not hold anyone accountable for the 10 deaths that occurred following postelection clashes in 2008, nor did it hold officials responsible for the beating of journalists and citizens during protests in 2015 and July 2016.