Absence of Life-term Prisoners' Amnesty Precedents
22.05.2013
12:00
On May 22, 12:00 Media Center a Panel Discussion / Press Conference on "Absence of Life-term Prisoners' Amnesty Precedents".

Chairman of Armenian Helsinki Committee Avetik Ishkhanyan, Ombudsman's Counselor Yeranuhi Toumanyants, journalist Zaruhi Mejlumyan, member of Civil Initiative Group for Protecting Prisoners Sentenced to Life Imprisonment Zaruhi Mouradyan and armenologist, philologist Artsvi Bakhchinyan.

Ishkhanyan is convinced that Armenian authorities treat life-term prisoners as 'lost' people, depriving them of any hope. Life-termers cannot use their rights defined in local and international laws, one of which is conditional early release after 20 years of imprisonment.

The human rights advocate noted that one of the most important legislative omissions is sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment.

"Gagik Jhangiryan spoke against raising the age requirement arguing it would result in crime increase in the army. This is a 'punishing' psychology, specific to Stalin period", Ishkhanyan said.

The Ombudsman office representative shared this opinion. "Our proposals on this issue will be discussed in the National Assembly in 2014 after which the Ombudsman will come up with an initiative", Ombudsman's Counselor Yeranuhi Toumanyants stated. 

Journalist Zaruhi Mejlumyan informed that 22 persons were sentenced to life imprisonment at the age of 18-21, 15 of them were on military service. "In other countries life-termers can demand case review and DNA testing, whereas it is impossible in Armenia: all the material evidence is  removed after the verdict. As a result of our civil initiative group's efforts a law was passed prohibiting removal of material evidence. I label it as a great victory. Now we are in the process of founding a non-profit organization the aims of which will include instituting DNA testing", - Mejlumyan concluded.

Zaruhi Muradyan added that the initiative group used to turn to authoritative bodies with petitions, but never getting any response from them they decided to continue the action by introducing legislative projects.

A few days ago life-termer Mher Yenoqyan's book "Parallel Worlds" was published. The whole income received will be directed to his education expenses. Artsvi Bakhchinyan is sure that Yenokyan has become a 'collective' character embodying all the life-term prisoners in Armenia and the book reflects what they all go through.

During the press conference the speakers presented their demands in the form of announcement addressed to the RA President, the National Assembly and the Ministry of Justice. 

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