On April 3, Media Center hosted a press-conference featuring “Mid-term (2010-2012) alternative report on the situation of Human Rights in Armenia” prepared by Civil Society Institute (CSI), the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC), and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). Speakers included Arman Danielyan, President of the Civil Society Institute NGO, Tatevik Gharibyan and Anna Meliqyan, lawyers of the CSI.
The speakers referred to issues related to torture and abuse, juvenile justice, penitentiary institutions and judicial system.
Tatevik Gharibyan stated courts continue to show prosecutorial bias, violating the principles of presumption of innocence and equality of arm, whereas victims of torture do not file official complaints fearing to worsen their condition. The lawyer noted that penitentiary institutions in Armenia remain overcrowded and no inmate rehabilitation programmes are implemented. She pointed out that proposals suggesting solutions to the mentioned problems have been drafted by the CSI.
Ms Gharibyan said 166 recommendations from United Nations Human Rights Council have been addressed to Armenia, only 43 of which have been implemented by the state. 78 recommendations remain partly implemented and 45 have not been implemented at all. Anna Melikyan, lawyer at CSI, specified Armenia still has 2.5 years to implement the recommendations.
Ms Melikyan then addressed torture issues, marking that the Ministry of Justice presented a draft bill on the rights of torture victims, but it is still "frozen" in the National Assembly.
The definition of torture in the Criminal Code falls short of the requirements of the United Nations Convention against Torture (UN CAT) and the courts continue to accept evidence obtained though alleged torture and ill-treatment, the lawyers of the NGO mentioned.
Estimating the penitentiary system in Armenia, President of the Civil Society Institute NGO Arman Danielyan said he did not see any serious progress in the sphere, “however, the Ministry of Justice is making amendments in the legal system”. The speaker stressed neither a system of juvenile justice nor appropriate specialization among prosecutors, lawyers and investigators in working with juveniles have been introduced in Armenia, adding that journalist’s access to penitentiary institutions is now limited: “if journalists had more access, the situation would be more controllable”.
“We must be consistent so that the state implements these recommendations”, President of the NGO asserted.
Please follow this link to watch the full video of the press conference.