The Right to Housing Project, implemented in cooperation between the Human Rights Research Center (HRRC) and the AUA Human Rights Clinic, deals with addressing the issue of protecting the right to adequate housing of people affected by the 1988 earthquake.
On July 20, the team embarked on a field investigation, visiting various locations and engaging with affected individuals to gain a deeper understanding of the issue.
The purpose of the project team's visit to Gyumri was to meet with the interested parties and to form a comprehensive understanding of the current stage of the settlement of the homelessness problem.
The concerns of the project team, in particular, refer to the Government's plan to dismantle temporary houses (known as "Tnaks") installed or built after the earthquake on the free state and community-owned plots of land, approved by Government Decision N 1601 of October 13, 2022, which contains serious risk of increasing homelessness in Gyumri.
During the visit, the project team had the opportunity to meet with representatives of local non-governmental organizations dealing with the protection of the rights of people left homeless as a result of the earthquake, such as, A.D. Sakharov Human Rights Protection NGO, and "Shirak Center" NGO, as well as with representatives of the Shirak Regional Division of the Office of the Human Rights Defender. A visit was made to temporary/makeshift houses and emergency dormitory buildings, interviews were held with the residents.
As a result of the conversations, project team learned the dismantling of the "Tnaks" has not been carried out yet. However, both the experts and the representatives of the HRDO staff mentioned the urgent need to review the Government's Decision, noting that the risks arising for the citizens as a result of the resettlement are not addressed, and the guarantees of their future sufficient livelihood are not clear. In the absence of such measures and guarantees, the implementation of the Decision will lead to a violation of a number of human rights of affected individuals by the State.
It is important to note that the Human Rights Research Center is currently studying the compliance of the Government's Decision with the international human rights obligations undertaken by Armenia, in particular with Article 11.1 of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (the right to an adequate standard of living and adequate housing).
Based on the results of the study, the HRRC will submit an Alternative Report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights ahead of the 4th the periodic review of Armenia's obligations, which will take place during the Committee's 74th session, on October 3 and 4, in Geneva.
At the same time, the HRRC and the AUA Human Rights Clinic have combined efforts to implement a public awareness campaign, noting the need for high public scrutiny and state accountability regarding the issue.
Human Rights Research Center by
Recognizing the unique circumstances of each individual experiencing homelessness as a result of the 1988 earthquake,
Considering the serious systemic failures that have led to the violation of their needs and the rights for three decades,
calls upon the RA government and all interested parties
to be guided in their actions by the imperative to protect the dignity, social welfare and rights of all persons who became homeless as a result of the 1988 earthquake,
to guarantee the fulfillment of the state's obligations under Article 11.1 of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ensuring the full realization of the right of the affected individuals to adequate housing.
The Right to Housing Project, is implemented by HRRC in cooperation with the AUA Human Rights Clinic and with the support of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED).