On September 5 the Civil Society Institute (CSI) in cooperation with the Armenian Lawyers’ Association (ARMLA) and the State Probation Service of the Ministry of Justice of Armenia organized a working meeting in Vanadzor, Lori. The topic of the working meeting was “The State Probation Service: Expectations and perspectives for cooperation”. Lori regional officers of the State Probation Service and the representatives of the NGOs operating in Lori region participated in the workshop.
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 and facilitate the cooperation of the Probation Service and civil society sector and to invest in the development of a collaboration platform between the NGOs and the State Probation Service.
During the workshop the main functions of the State Probation Service were presented, the film about Probation Service created in collaboration of the Civil Society Institute and the Media Initiative Centerwas screened. Working meeting promoted active discussion between participants; some of them expressed their ideas of the development of the Probation Service.
The representatives of the civil society sector stressed the importance of the input of the probation service which is a strong step towards the respect of human rights and restorative justice.
For some NGOs the concept of probation was a new and interesting idea that was welcomed by them. They assured that in the future they would implement various projects to promote the development of the State Probation Service and to assist probationers.
The representatives of some of the participating NGOs informed about their initiatives to work with the beneficiaries of the Probation Service. Those initiatives still are at the drafting stage. They also mentioned about their willingness to involve the probationers in their programs which would allow the probationers to alienate from the negative environment and engage in public activities.
Local research and the CSI practice prove that penitentiary institutions do not contribute to the rehabilitation and re-socialization of offenders; moreover, a prison term leads to the strengthening of criminal subculture among offenders.The work of the State Probation Service allows to facilitate the return of the offender to the society, his/her rehabilitation and this has to be done with the constant support of the community.
The State Probation Service is the agency that can combine the interests and goals of both state agencies and civil society organizations promoting the cooperation for the development of the culture of restorative justice in Armenia. This is the message sent by the CSI during the regional meetings with NGOs and the representatives of the probation service. Only common effort can bring the desired result of crime prevention and social inclusion of the ex-prisoners and those on parole and probation periods.
The working meeting was organized in the framework of "Towards the Probation Service in Armenia" project with the financial support of the UNDEF.