Juvenile offenders: the Suspension of Rehabilitation Centers
Community rehabilitation centers working with juvenile offenders or minors under police surveillance have not operated since January due to the suspended international funding and the absence of any support from the government.

Mariam Hovhannisyan, Country Director for the Armenia Office of Project Harmony International, says the rehabilitation centers which operated since 2006 proved to be 94% effective.

 “Realizing the importance of the centers, the government has to assist in not only their maintenance but also future development. The centers are already accomplished in several areas, so it is possible to develop them and carry out work in the probation services being launched. And that should not be limited to only minors,” Martirosyan notes.

Mira Antonyan, CEO of the Armenian Relief Fund’s Children’s Support Center, says their rehabilitation centers had high effectiveness records.

 “We worked with about 1,000 children in three years, including both registered and non-registered [beneficiaries],” she explains.

It has been three months since the police have been working with juvenile offenders without any support from rehabilitation centers.

 “The police manage to keep the situation under control today; the activities with juvenile offenders continue regardless of the centers’ existence. As for the effectiveness, it is a different matter,” Arthur Vardanyan, deputy head of the Department for the Protection of Minors’ Rights and Fight Against Domestic Violence at the Armenian Police says.

Despite the suspended funding, several rehabilitation centers keep operating on voluntary basis; those in Kapan and Chambarak have received financial assistance.

Aram Orbelyan, deputy minister of justice, says they have launched joint debates with the National Commission for the Protection of Children’s Rights and the Police to consider options for ensuring an ongoing funding. 

 “Unfortunately, when I try to consider it from the perspective of the Ministry’s functions and the Ministry-implemented projects,  the funding of the centers does not fit any project at all, as the probation services and the rehabilitation centers are similar only at first sight, but they are targeted at the implementation of somewhat different functions,” he says.

According to the deputy minister, the possibility of funding within the budget of the police, communities and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is now under discussion. 

On March 12 the Media Center hosted a discussion entitled “Juvenile offenders: the Suspension of Rehabilitation Centers’’. The speakers of the discussion were Artur Vardanyan, Deputy Head of the Police Criminal Investigation Department of Domestic Violence and of Juvenile Affairs, Aram Orbelyan, Deputy Justice Minister, Mira Antonyan, Director of Child Reception and Orientation Center of Fund for Armenian Relief, Mariam Martirosyan, Armenia office director of PH International

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