Interview with the member of the Chamber of Advocates Lusine Sahakyan
Recently the European Court of Human Rights satisfied the complaint of the citizen Kamo Piruzyan versus Republic of Armenia. What were the violations held in the case?
This is one of the unique cases where a set of decisions was made concerning to all issues of detention in our judicial practice. The European court held that there is a violation of several provisions of the parts 1,2,3 and 4 of the Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to liberty and security of person).
In 2006 Piruzyan has been charged with murder attempt and banditry. From the beginning he insisted that has no connection with the crimes, presented the facts proving he was at home when the crimes were committed. His wife had confirmed this fact and assured that her husband was at home at the time of crimes’ committal.
There were many violations in this case: wife with her newborn child was taken to the Police, violence has been applied towards her, and she was threatened and was told that they will throw her child from the window and she has to write that her husband was not home. The case was investigated in such situation. One year and two months later Piruzyan was acquitted. However he has been under detention during this period of time.
We, the lawyers, were trying to explain the courts that there were no ground for the person’s detention because there was no reasonable suspicion or evidence that he has a connection with the offence. Besides, there was no any fact proving that Piruzyan would abscond and obstruct the investigation or would commit a new offence if released. Under such conditions the court imposed a preliminary detention as a measure of restraint and later extended the terms of detention.
Lawyers have protested against an excessive use of preliminary detention by the courts on many occasions. Where the issue is rooted: legislation or practice?
There are issues connected with both legislation and practice. Particularly, the old Article 138 of the Criminal Procedure Code defined that when the criminal case is forwarded to the court, the term of detention is terminated. We raised a question then that this article violates the Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights and this norm should not be valid.
The Article 143 stipulates that if the person is accused for committing grave and particularly grave offence, application of a bail as preventive measure is inadmissible. We insist that it is a violation of the Convention as well. RA Court of Cassation has issued precedent decisions and thus confirmed that these two articles contradicts the Convention and should not be applied and it should be stressed that in general the courts do not apply these articles.
It was common another arguable practice of using preliminary detention as a measure of restraint by the courts without obtaining any evidence provided by the materials of the criminal case. The Cassation has passed a decision concerning this practice on inadmissibility of imposing preliminary detention as a measure of restraint without any ground. However, the Court of Cassation was not consistent and number of our appeals was returned with the same argumentation that in our appeals we did not substantiate that the judicial act that to be issued may be essential for the equal application of the law or that judicial fault may lead to severe consequences.
In the case of Kamo Piruzyan and in other cases the European Court of Human Rights has clearly defined that the existing practice in Armenia is inadmissible, people are detained on mass scale. However this practice exists so far and the Republic of Armenia and Armenian tax payers suffer. Compensation to Kamo Piruzyan imposed by the European Court will be paid by us, tax payers, because the courts have violated his rights and the Court of Cassation disregarded this. This situation lasts for years and nothing is changed.
What violations are prevailing in the applications submitted to the European Court versus Armenia?
As I have mentioned above, there are many cases of violation of the Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights (Right to liberty and personal security), Article 3 (Right not to be subjected to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment). There are a prevailing number of violations of the Article 6 (Right to fair trial) and Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention (peaceful enjoyment of his possession) in relation of residents of sales areas.
I would like to mention that Armenia will face serious problems in connection with the Articles 10 and 11(Freedom of expression and freedom to peaceful assembly) particularly based on the complaints concerning March 1 cases.
Recently the European Court of Human Rights issued number of judgments against Armenia, what is the reason and what is your forecast?
In the past there very not many applications lodged with the European Court. As far as the process takes too long, the judgments are just issued and a range of judgments against Armenia is expected in near future.
Whether the financial claims presented in the applications are fully satisfied?
No, they are not fully satisfied. We see that the Court imposes bigger compensations in the beginning in order to change the situation in country. Then the size of compensation is reduced if the Court sees that there is an improvement.
As a lawyer, do you think that the size of compensation was adequate in case of Kamo Piruzyan?
No, as I think that 8000 EUROS is too small sum for one year and two months of illegal deprivation of liberty.