No progress in Armenia’s anti-torture policies – rights activists

12:15 • 26.06.13

Armenian human rights activists from the Helsinki committee headquarters find the country’s anti-torture policies very poor and unpromising.

Speaking to, President of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia Avetik Ishkhanyan said the Armenian authorities still go round in a circle, showing absolutely no signs of progress. Artur Sakunts of the Vanadzor Helsinki Association said he believes the situation remains as poor as it used to be.

June 26 is marked around the world as the International Day in support of Victims of Torture. The day has been observed annually since 1998.

Ishkhanyan believes that the police are the most vulnerable targets of criticism in matters relating to torture. “They are often unwilling to speak of inquests, but they are often accompanied by intimidation and battery, sometimes even torture,” the activist told our reporter.

The traditional violations, according to him, are the failure to ensure a lawyer’s presence during the interrogation, give a suspect the right to make the first call or notify the latter of the period he or she is expected to remain in police custody.

Ishkhanyan noted that confessions are often distorted from suspects under duress.

“The situation is unfavorable in other places as well, especially the penitentiaries which are closed institutions,” said he, adding that inmates often remain silent on the existing problems at meetings with NGO representatives.
Armenia is a state party to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Commenting on the situation, Sakunts said that the police departments, which do not refrain from a torturous conduct, often fail themselves to launch proceedings over cases of torture.

The activist said that the biannual reports published by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on the Prevention of Torture clearly depict the situation in each member state.

“They give a very accurate description of the situation. Furthermore, the committee was on a visit to Armenia this March for conducting studies at the police departments,” he noted.

The Committee’s representatives, who are authorized to conduct an unlimited number of visits to places of detentions, psychiatric hospitals etc, were in Armenia to assess the authorities’ steps towards mitigating the situation of prisoners, especially those serving a life sentence.

The Committee’s first report on Armenia was based on a 2008 post-electoral monitoring. The Committee’s experts, who were in the country from March 15 to 17, talked to 70 individuals detained over the post-electoral unrest.

They said in subsequent findings that the legislative provision on keeping a suspect in detention for no more than 72 hours was very often violated.  

Armenian News -


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