Armenian MP urges for PACE efforts to combat sects
An Armenian delegate to the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has raised the question of harmful sects and their devastating consequences. In a speech at the Assembly, Naira Zohrabyan particularly voiced concerns over possible impacts on minors. She proposed that the Assembly ask national parliaments to consider stricter legislative measures to prevent the younger generation from being involved in the said religious groups. She stressed the importance of finding the right balance between fundamental human rights and freedom of religion. “Dear colleagues, “How many families and minors had to go to ruin for our Assembly to finally address the harmful sects and their devastating consequences? I hail the report by Rudy Salles, our colleague, and to be frank, I consider it belated,” she said. Zohrabyan, who represents the Prosperous Armenia faction in the Armenian National Assembly, referred to an earlier bill which she and several other parliamentary colleagues had proposed to the legislative in an effort to protect the minors in Armenia from what she described as dangerous sects. “The respectable Venice Commission, however, kicked up an unspeakable fuss then, considering it a violation of the freedom of conscience. Our colleague today has introduced a draft with stronger accentuations and stricter demands for combating sects,” she said, highly praising the move. The Armenian MP described the PACE’s failure to combat sects enslaving human beings as hypocracy rather than a protection of human rights. “We are simply obliged to halt the dangerous, devastating sect parade in our countries, as they very often lead families and minors to a guaranteed destruction, taking advantage of the extreme social conditions people face. I definitely agree with the rapporteur on the need to reinforce the provisions of the criminal legislation, which envisage punishment for making people, first of all minors, dependent on sects through different physical and psychological mechanisms of influence,” Zohrbayan noted. She added that her and her colleagues’ bill, which had met the Council of Europe’s “verdict” then, proposed exactly the same with even milder accentuations. “I am hopeful there has been a situation change in view of the devastations caused by similar sects. With the interests of the citizen and the minor being endangered, it is necessary to find the right balance between the fundamental human values and freedom of religion. I call for voting in favor of this very important report and appeal national parliaments to urgently commit themselves to the elaboration of the extremely serious legislation against harmful sects,” the Armenian delegate added.