According to the official data of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) the number of forcibly displaced people in the world at the end of 2015 amounted to approximately 65 million.
The majority of refugees and asylum seekers in the Republic of Armenia are from Syria, Iraq, Iran, African countries (Ivory Coast, Mali, Congo), Ukraine. After the April war in Artsakh there was also a large number of our compatriots displaced from the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (over 2,000 people).
Refugees and asylum seekers are considered more vulnerable and require more attention in terms of protection of their rights, because as a rule they do not have a comprehensive understanding of the rights attached to their status. Another problem is their integration into the society of the country they were forced to move to. There are cases when having left all their belongings in their native country they find themselves in a difficult social situation in the host country.
It is due to these circumstances that legal acts are adopted by different countries and international organizations guaranteeing the effective protection of the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and other forcibly displaced persons.
In accordance with paragraph 1 of part 1 of Article 6 of the Republic of Armenia law “On Refugees and Asylum” a refugee is a foreigner who is outside the country of his citizenship because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted for belonging to a particular racial, religious, national, social group or for political views and is unable or because of the same fear is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of the country of his citizenship, or who having no citizenship and being outside the country of his former permanent residence is unable or because of the same fear is unwilling to return there. Pursuant to paragraph 2 of the same part a refugee is also the foreign citizen who was forced to leave the country of his citizenship, and for the person without citizenship – the country of his former permanent residence, due to prevailing violence, external attack, internal conflicts, massive violations of human rights or other serious events violating public order.
The United Nations Convention of 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees is the main international document of the protection of rights of refugees. The Convention was ratified by the Republic of Armenia, then entered into force since October 4, 1993.
The protection of fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution concerns not only the citizens of RA, but every person, including refugees and asylum seekers. Such fundamental rights are the rights to life, personal liberty, freedom of thought, conscience, expression of opinion and others.
The main legal act regulating the sphere in the Republic of Armenia is the law “On Refugees and Asylum”, which was adopted on November 27, 2008. This law defines the relations related to granting refugee status, providing asylum, as well as the rights and responsibilities of those persons.
Article 52 of the Constitution. According to it “Everyone has the right to have the support of the Human Rights Defender in case of violation of his rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution by state and local self-government bodies and officials, and in the cases defined by the Law On Human Rights Defender - by organizations as well”. This constitutional provision implies that every person, regardless of whether he is a citizen of RA, or a citizen of another country or in general, a person without a citizenship, has the right to apply to the Human Rights Defender of RA for assistance in case of violation of his rights and freedoms. This circle of persons also includes refugees, asylum seekers and persons forcibly displaced from their homeland.