Civil Society’s Proposal for Effective Investigation of Torture Cases
21.05.2015
09:00
Media Center, May 21, 2015: Rights defenders, officials and international experts shared insights on torture prevention, protection of torture victims’ rights and effective investigation in Armenia.

Before the panel discussion Davit Amiryan, Deputy Director for Programs at Open Society Institutes – Armenia, said the team has been developing a comprehensive package of strategies to handle the change of law implementation and enforcement.

“Actually, the strategies aim to enhance the creation, establishment of mechanisms for effectively investigating torture cases, or making the current mechanisms more efficient. Thus, there are analyses and monitorings being conducted,” Amiryan said.

Chairman of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia Avetik Ishkhanyan presented his report on the absolute prohibition on torture and its application in Armenia.
Ishkhanyan said the country undertook a set of obligations after joining the Council of Europe but some remained a dead letter.

“Since 2001 the Ministry of Justice has been working with NGOs more efficiently and the system is now more transparent. Armenia went ahead to adopt a law on detainees and prisoners. Moreover, a number of public monitoring groups can monitor prisons and detention facilities. Following its joining the CoE, the country established the institute of human rights protection which is crucial,” Ishkhanyan said.

However, Armenia has seen no substantial shifts regarding the torture prevention, he believes.

“To eliminate torture the country first of all must develop prevention strategies. Secondly, courts must be absolutely independent. Both the society and high ranking authorities have an inertial way of thinking in Armenia. Strict punishment is important but of more importance is the inevitability of the punishment.”

Ishkhanyan called for changing the mentality and public opinion and improving mechanisms for public monitoring.

Lawyer Hayk Alumyan said the Criminal Code does not fix the concept “torture” as it is defined in the UN Convention on Torture and the code fails to comply with international standards.

“With respect to the judiciary system, the investigation must go in line with international standards and it must be held instantly. We don’t always have instant investigations though the law specifies ten days for filing motions. Besides, the person who has allegedly been exerted torture on does not have a full access to the case materials,” Alumyan said.

Justice ends with the investigation for the offended party, rights defender Artak Zeynalyan believes, while in the court they can do nothing in practice.

“The reparation defined is inadequate. We suggest revising the amount of the reparation. The code does not specify crime elements for officials. Then, the torture cases must be investigated by the administrative court and not the civil one. We also suggest creating efficient mechanisms for legal protection through extrajudicial procedures,” Zeynalyan said.

To prevent torture, the speakers believe, lawyers, investigators, police officers and judges must be professionally trained and educated.

The speakers’ presentations were followed by the speeches of the foreign experts who shared thoughts on the international practice and a discussion.

Lilit Arakelyan, Editor-Coordinator.
Please contact the author at lilitarakelyan@pjc.am.

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