Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

The penitentiary service forbade the psychologist to enter the penitentiary institution and provide support to the life-sentenced person subjected to torture

September 3, 2019

Artur Kocharyan | Activities | Legal Support | Legal Support | Project։ Stability of HCA Vanadzor in the light of democracy and human rights challenges in the Republic of Armenia 2019 | Project։ Combatting Torture and Ill Treatment in Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine | Publications | News

By the note dated June 27, 2019, Penitentiary Service of the RA Ministry of Justice did not allow the psychologist to enter Armavir penitentiary institution to provide psychological support to life-sentenced Artur Koccharyan who had been subjected to torture. 


On June 10, 2019, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor applied to the RA Ministry of Justice to provide the convict with psychological support  in the frame of “Combatting torture and ill-treatment in Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine” project implemented jointly with The Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and with the support of the European Union.  In the note, we asked to allow the psychologists of “The Armenian Rehabilitation Center of Torture Survivors” founded within the framework of this project to enter the penitentiary institution and provide the life-sentenced convict with psychological support. 


Besides the fact that once again the note addressed to the Ministry of Justice was responded by Manuk Mikaelyan, first deputy head of the Penitentiary Service, and this done without any notification of readdressing, the latter substantiated his decision by the fact that a psychologist was not a doctor and could not enter as such. He suggested using the opportunity of visiting.


“Psychological aid cannot be considered as medical service and a psychologist cannot be considered as a doctor”, commented M. Mikaelyan.  He then added that 3 psychologists of the penitentiary institution provided the convicts with psychological support. 


For the second time, HCA Vanadzor applied to the RA Ministry of Justice with the same issue, this time to the newly appointed minister R. Badasyan, on July 19, 2019. In the application, HCA Vanadzor invoked parts from international documents pertaining to the necessity of psychological support for persons subjected to torture and the obligations in the sphere internationally undertaken by the RA and underscored the importance of providing psychological support to convict Artur Kocharyan. 


The note addressed to the newly appointed minister was again responded to by the RA Ministry of Justice penitentiary service. V. Papoyan, deputy head of the Service, “reminded” HCA Vanadzor about the previous response and clarifications given therein. 


Despite the claims made by Penitentiary Service representatives, hundreds of self-injury cases are recorded in penitentiary institutions every year and they manage to prevent only some of them.


According to the study made by the group conducting observations in penitentiary institutions, 27 suicide cases were recorded in penitentiary institutions during 2011-2017. 1486 self-injury cases were recorded only during 2016-2017. 


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