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Our past work in Armenia

Rapid Response Intervention  (2020-2021)

In a nine-month rapid response program funded by USAID, ABA ROLI worked with local partners to provide more effective and targeted support to vulnerable women and LGBT persons in Armenia during the COVID-19 crisis. We helped increase the capacity and tools of local civil society organizations to provide services and a safe haven to their beneficiaries, and advocate on their behalf. ABA ROLI helped strengthen the resources and capacity of human rights organizations that offer social, psychological, legal, and urgent medical support (including medical care and mental support) to these underrepresented groups and advocate with the government of Armenia for their rights.

Stronger Institutional Guarantees for Human Rights Protection (2018-2019)

ABA ROLI worked to ensure human rights protection for all Armenians by enhancing the capacity of the Office of the Human Rights Defender (OHRD) of Armenia in target areas, enhancing ABA ROLI’s collaboration with human rights organizations, as well as promoting public awareness of human rights and human rights protection mechanisms through coordination meetings, public service announcements, regional traveling clinics, and more. The project was funded by the United States Agency for International Development through the Human Rights Support Mechanism. As a result of the political developments in Armenia throughout 2018, additional activities were developed to strengthen the OHRD’s capacity to respond to violations of electoral rights, ensure access to legal aid on elections related violations, and foster the human rights community’s ability to actively engage in electoral dispute resolution. ABA ROLI’s activities before, during, and after the snap Parliamentary elections in December 2018 focused on the protection and promotion of electoral rights by ensuring the OHRD’s capacity to respond to elections-related violations and improving the Armenian people's access to elections assistance. Specifically, this included developing election hotlines, awareness materials, and establishing and training Election Ambulance Advisory Teams (EAAT) throughout the country. The EAAT promoted election integrity, increased voter education, and supported access to justice.

Legal Assistance for Displaced and Conflict-Affected Persons (2017-2018)

ABA ROLI’s U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration-funded legal assistance program for displaced and conflict-affected persons continued to provide assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, newly naturalized citizens and IDPs in Armenia. Building on the success of our 2016-17 program, ABA ROLI increased the staff and capacity of its Refugee Legal Assistance Center by broadening its comprehensive legal support to beneficiaries and widening its scope to reach more of them. Not only were beneficiaries provided with immediate direct legal aid from consultations to court representation but they were also educated through trainings on general issues related to tax, customs, healthcare, education, land rights, entrepreneurship, family law, and gender parity, among others. Armenia children also participated in basic rights trainings. Throughout the program, ABA ROLI increased the capacity and coordination of its partners and volunteers to provide sustained protection and assistance in addressing beneficiaries’ needs.

Building the capacity of the Criminal Defense Bar to advance human rights (1997–2016)

Twenty years of USAID- and U.S. State Department-supported ABA ROLI assistance to justice sector institutions in Armenia has led to the creation of a unified national bar association (“the Chamber of Advocates”), and the establishment of the first Public Defender’s Office in the former Soviet Union. These local legal institutions which ABA ROLI helped to establish and support, are now Armenians’ first line of defense. Following years of ABA ROLI support, the Chamber of Advocates and the Public Defender’s Office serve as checks against abuses of executive power, and monitor and inform new criminal legislation to ensure it meets international standards for due process and rights protection. Most critically, they provide quality legal services to criminal defendants in a region where guilt is too often a foregone conclusion. Local legal institutions play a vital role in protecting human rights and maintaining high standards for the practice of law. Through helping local legal stakeholders in their efforts to be independent, self-governing, effective and sustainable, ABA ROLI is helping to support human rights advocacy for years to come.

Supporting rule of law reforms in legal institutions (1996 – 2013)

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the former Soviet republic struggled to shape and support its vital legal institutions, such as the judiciary, legal profession and legal education, as well as civic exercises like the right to vote. Funded by USAID, ABA ROLI’s Armenia Rule of Law Program promoted the independence and professionalism of the judiciary and the legal profession, helping to establish and build the organizational capacity of Armenia’s first bar association, the Chamber of Advocates, as well as the first judicial association. Now sustainable, the Chamber of Advocates is a key resource for and loudspeaker of Armenia’s defense lawyers, who play an important role in the promotion and defense of human rights. ABA ROLI also supported the establishment of Armenia’s first legal clinics, all six of which remain operational today. Legal clinics fulfill the important role of providing needed access to justice to Armenia’s indigent while building law students’ practical legal skills.