A staff member “Civil Society Institute” NGO Isahak Khachatryan is member of the Torture Prevention Expert Council under the Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Office of Armenia. Isahak has conducted more than 20 rapid response visits from June to December, 2012. As a follow-up to calls received on the Ombudsman’s hotline 116 he visited police stations and penitentiary institutions together with a staff member of the Ombudsman’s Office.
To remind, Human Rights Defender Office of Armenia in cooperation with 9 non-governmental organizations, including Civil Society Institute, re-launched its rapid response service since November 1, 2011.
“Summarizing the rapid responses that I have carried out, I can state that the majority of cases concerns unlawful summoning to police stations and groundless apprehension for hours without notification of the rights”, says Isahak Khachatryan.
He highlights the cases when people without determining their legal status were detained for hours at police stations and were not informed that they had the right to leave a police station after expiry of 3 hours.
“When we requested to show us the registry containing information about people summoned to police stations in order to find out when a person had been summoned there, we were denied in several cases or the registries were brought with delay. We can assume that the time when people were brought to the stations had not been recorded”, - added Isahak Khachatryan
On October 24, 2012 a woman called to the 116 hotline and informed that police officers of the Kentron police station of Yerevan had taken her husband to the police station to find out whereabouts of their son and were keeping him there. “There was no record in the registry about the fact of summoning that citizen to the police station. We talked with him in private, explained his rights, particularly that he had the right to leave the police station if he wanted. To this he stated that he did not want to stay there and left the police station with us”, says a member of the rapid response group.
There was another call about summoning a person to a police station and detaining there for prolonged hours without grounds on November 21, 2012. This time there were three persons summoned to the Mashtots Department of Yerevan Police. “We talked with the citizens in private and found out that they had been detained without legitimate grounds. They were released following our intervention but later refused to lodge a written complaint with the Ombudsman”, stresses out Isahak Khachatryan.
According to him, mainly relatives and family members of those who have been summoned to police station call the hot line of the rapid response. As for the calls and complaints from persons detained in penitentiary institutions, the majority includes demands to review their cases and ensure their right to a fair trial.