On March 20, the Civil Society Institute responded to a video material issued by the RA Police which had criticized the organization’s recently launched Study on Ill-treatment and Torture of Juveniles in the Republic of Armenia.
Press release is wholly presented below.
The Civil Society Institute (CSI) Responds to the Criticizing Video Issued by the RA Police
Yerevan, Armenia– In response to the video material produced by the RA Police on March 14, 2013, today the Civil Society Institute sent a letter to Vladimir Gasparyan, Head of the Police. In the message, the Police criticized the Study on Ill-treatment and Torture of Juveniles in the Republic of Armenia prepared by CSI and Human Rights Defender’s Office in cooperation with UNICEF and Penal Reform International. The study was launched earlier on March 13, 2013 revealing cases of violence of juveniles’ rights both at investigation and trial stages as well as in detention.
As the co-author of the study, CSI acknowledges the call for cooperation made by the Police and expresses willingness to continue joint work aimed at bringing systemic change to the area.
At the same time, CSI claims that ill-treatment and torture still occurs in Armenia and this phenomenon relates both to juveniles and adults who ever dealt with the police. In fact, fearing to worsen their state, torture victims never pronounce that they have been subjected to violence before they are accused. Mostly, these statements are made by offenders in the court; however, as the judicial monitoring data shows, no criminal cases are initiated further to such statements.
In response to the request by the police to provide facts, CSI mentioned that the above study had been made on the basis of anonymous interviews among 86 juveniles, both detained and convict, and area specialists including judges, lawyers, an attorney, an investigator as well as staffs of NGOs, the “Abovyan” Penitentiary Institute and the Republican No. 1 Special Education Complex. And the objective of these interviews had been to reveal the phenomenon itself.
And though the methodology of the current study does not allow disclosing names of the interviewees, CSI through another research, the “Trial Monitoring Report - Cases Involving Juvenile Defendants” has raised a number of related issues. The Institute pointed to two recent cases of juvenile offenders who announced in the court about their having been beaten by police officers. No investigation was carried out based on those statements. Attached to the letter, CSI sent the Police data and recording of these two cases.
The study provided a number of suggestions, and CSI offers to discuss them with respective specialists at the Police office.
Also, the study budget mentioned in the police’s video material has been exaggerated by some 200 times.
CSI has got considerable experience of issues of torture and human rights in Armenia. The organization has taken active part in the lobbying for the ratification of the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). For several years CSI’s president Arman Danielyan has served as the chairman of the Group of Public Monitors Implementing Supervision over the Criminal-Executive Institutions and Bodies of the RA Ministry of Justice. Through www.hra.am website, CSI prepares and distributes information about the recent developments in the area. Throughout its activity, CSI initiates studies and participates in the development of research papers and reports related to the area.