CASE OF MUSHEGH SAGHATELYAN v. ARMENIA (Application No. 23086/08)

A selection of key paragraph(s) can be found below the document.

247. The Court cannot overlook either the manner in which the assembly was dispersed. It points out the existence of a number of credible reports from which it appears that the police used unjustified and excessive force against the demonstrators (see paragraphs 124, 129, 132 and 134 above). Some of those reports allege also that no prior order was given by the police for the demonstrators to disperse (see paragraphs 124 and 134 above). It is noteworthy that the actions of the police do not appear ever to have been the subject of an independent and impartial investigation. Lastly, the Court notes all the controversy and lack of transparency regarding the police operation, including the constantly changing narrative about the purpose of that operation.

248. The Court therefore concludes that the dispersal of the assembly at Freedom Square without sufficient justification and apparently without warnings to disperse and with unjustified and excessive use of force, was a disproportionate measure which went beyond what it was reasonable to expect from the authorities when curtailing freedom of assembly.

254. In sum, even assuming that the dispersal of the assembly and the applicant’s prosecution, detention and conviction complied with domestic law and pursued one of the legitimate aims enumerated in Article 11 § 2 of the Convention – presumably, prevention of disorder and crime – the measures in question were not necessary in a democratic society. Furthermore, the dispersal of the assembly and the punitive measures taken against the applicant could not but have the effect of discouraging him from participating in political rallies. Undoubtedly, those measures also had a serious potential to deter other opposition supporters and the public at large from attending demonstrations and, more generally, from participating in open political debate (see, mutatis mutandis, Gafgaz Mammadov, cited above, § 67).