RA General Prosecutor’s speech at the International Conference Marking The 10 Year Anniversary Of The Human Rights Defender As National Preventive Mechanism In Armenia

 

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

Dear Human Rights Defender,

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is my pleasure to welcome all the participants of the International Conference dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Human Rights Defender's activity and congratulate all the staff of the RA Human Rights Defender's Office and personally you, Mr. Tatoyan, on the occasion of this important and significant anniversary. In my opinion the decade of the national preventive mechanism is an important outcome in order to evaluate its achievements and experience, properly present it to various levels of society and our international partners, as well as to develop effective acceptable mechanisms for identifying and addressing its challenges and problems.

 

It is difficult to overestimate the role of the RA human rights defender in recognizing the independent national mechanism in prisons in the field of prevention of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and raising the identified problems at relevant authorities. During the past decade, a number of issues have been raised in regard of systematic and specific issues of deprivation of liberty, which have been reflected not only in the Human Rights Defender's annual and special National Reports on Preventive Mechanism, but also in letters directed to various state agencies. Particular evidence of the effectiveness of the National Preventive Mechanism is particularly appreciated by its international partners for its work and the fact that the experience of the RA Ombudsman as a National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture has been proposed by other countries to be implemented within the framework of the Council of Europe program.

 

The recent legislative reforms in the field of problem are the best evidence that the Republic of Armenia complies to the international commitment in the fight against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. According to the Law, 9 June 2015, On Making Amendments to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia, the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia was amended by a new Article: 309.1 titled “Torture”, which changed the legal definition of the crime of torture fully complying with Article 1 of the Convention. In addition, the current criminal-procedural regulations provide for a public prosecution regime for torture cases, that is, the victim's complaint is not a mandatory requirement to initiate criminal proceedings. Such legal regulation is an important guarantee for prosecuting the guilty ones. The aforementioned legal regulations changed the quality of the state's criminal policy against the use of force by officials. In particular, during 2015-2018 criminal prosecution was initiated against 6 persons under Article 309.1 of the RA Criminal Code, out of which in 2017 a criminal case was sent to the court with the indictment of 1 person. As of November 26, 2018 a criminal case against 1 person has been sent to court, the trial of the case continues, while 4 persons / 1 person in 1 criminal case and 3 persons in 1 case / are involved as defendant.

 

The RA Prosecutor's Office has always attached great importance to the establishment and improvement of the effective cooperation and partnerships with the RA Human Rights Defender as a national preventive mechanism aimed at preventing and detecting all possible cases of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as well as at combating criminal activity through the use of criminal and legal tools, in providing comprehensive, complete and objective investigation, identification of the causes originating the crimes. It is not accidental that in recent years some criminal cases have been initiated on the basis of reports submitted by the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia in the result of the monitoring conducted in the frame of the national preventive mechanism. The monitoring conducted is particularly important in terms of effectiveness of the investigations of torture cases in order to ensure the urgency of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. In general, in the course of supervision over the investigation of cases of torture and ill-treatment, the RA Prosecutor's Board's report of 23 June 2017 was very important for the establishment and provision of international standards for the effectiveness of the investigation. As a result the guidelines defined are related, inter alia, to prevent possible ill treatment against detained persons, to provide thorough, prompt and independent investigation in the RA Police detention places and penitentiary institutions of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia, as well as to take measures to create special forensic medical rooms for examinations in expert institutions. It is also noteworthy that the Head of the Department of Torture and Ill-Treatment of the RA Human Rights Defender's Office of the Republic of Armenia also participated in the above-mentioned Board meeting, who is also the coordinator of the implementation of the national preventive mechanism. I hope that existing partnerships will allow us to further enhance our cooperation in order to act immediately, timely and adequately against all possible cases of torture cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as well as involving the perpetrator in responsibility according to international commitments.

 

Congratulating you once again on the occasion of this important anniversary, I believe that this conference, organized with the wide involvement of our international partners, will truly become an effective platform for exchanging ideas, conducting discussions and presenting the best practice.