On August 23-25 the Civil Society Institute (CSI) and the Armenian Lawyers’ Association (ARMLA) visited Syunik region, and in cooperation with the State Probation Service of the Ministry of Justice of RA organized a meeting for the regional officers of the State Probation Service and the representatives of the NGOs operating in Goris and Kapan. Besides, CSI also organized such meeting for the representatives of the NGOs in Sisian. Those are three biggest towns in the region. Taking into account the limited mobility of the NGOs representatives and beneficiaries of probation, it was necessary to visit all of them.
The workshop was aimed to introduce the functions and main tasks of the State Probation Service to the participants. One of the goals of the workshop was to promote the cooperation of the state bodies and NGOs and to invest in the development of a collaboration platform between the NGOs and the State Probation Service.
The discussion revealed that both the Regional Representations of the State Probation Service and local NGOs are quite limited in their technical and financial resources. In addition, there is a need to develop a deeper understanding of the work of the correctional and probation system, its philosophy and principles of restorative justice and the role of civil sector in re-socialization of offenders. Unfortunately, the prevailing view in the Community would be that the task of rehabilitation and supervision of offenders must primarily be addressed by the State, the local community can only provide some minor assistance.
However, after a hot discussion and revealed problems, a number of the local NGOs showed willingness to support to the Probation Service in their re-socialization work with the offenders. This is a quite difficult task to cope with especially at the regions, where the stigma of the conviction and isolation of the offenders are more evident than in the capital. Still, the NGOs who are ready to assist the Probation Service mentioned the possibility of legal consultations, work with juveniles and to promote the idea of re-socialization and probation.
The working meeting was organized in the framework of "Towards the Probation Service in Armenia" project with the financial support of the UNDEF.