According to the established order in the CEIs, anyone protesting against the CEI administration will be considered a snitch. He will be punished severely up to sexual violence. That is the main reason why convicts do not voice their complaints about the CEI conditions.
“The fact that we do not have complaints means that the situation is awful. Our priority is to eliminate criminal and hierarchical relations from the CEIs,” stated Revazyan at the press conference hosted today by the Media Center at which the activities of monitoring group in 2013 were summarized.
Robert Revazyan is not satisfied with the cooperation between the monitoring group and the Ministry of Justice. Though the Ministry is to respond to urgent reports of the group within 3 days, in some cases they did not respond even within a month. The group members’ access to Artik CEI was hindered twice in a month. The group applied to the Ministry and, according to Revazyan, received a nonsensical answer.
This year the monitoring group has had over 120 visits to all 12 CEIs of Armenia. They have also sent more than 70 notes to different departments and conducted interviews with more than 200 convicts.
As observed by Zhorzhetta Mesropyan, a monitoring group member, the biggest problem in the CEIs is the lack of employment. One day prisoners will ultimately be released from the CEIs; yet they do not obtain any specialty and skills necessary for them to easily integrate back into the society.
“Imprisonment is punishment but to serve the sentence in inactivity is inhuman. We want the competent bodies to take into consideration employment issue in the CEIs,” said Zhorzhetta Mesropyan.
Hasmik Harutyunyan, a monitoring group member, prioritizes the non-functioning of parole/early release and compassionate release institutions.
“The issues of overcrowding and internal relations in the CEIs are of less urgency for convicts compared to the non-functioning of these 2 institutions,” said Harutyunyan.
Parole applications are mainly rejected. According to Harutyunyan, even convicts do not know the principles and criteria the CEI administration and independent committee employ when rejecting their applications and how they can appeal the decision.
Robert Revazyan mentioned that their monitoring revealed a CEI where there was no doctor. Food quality is very low, which is evidenced by a large number of parcels sent to the CEIs. Revazyan noted that the cost of a parcel range from 5000-25000AMD, whereas if prisoners were given good food, the number of parcels would be low.
Overcrowding continues to be an urgent issue. For instance, over 20 people live in 30-40m area in Nubarashen CEI. In hot summer they stay in that room where there is no ventilation, with light penetrating only from a small window.
The head of the monitoring group does not see any corrective functions at the CEIs. In his observations, appropriate personnel policy will contribute to the improvement of situation in CEIs. Currently,. of the CEI heads are representatives of law enforcement system with a mentality to punish instead of correcting.