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On December 11, 2019, the RA Government draft decision “On making amendments and addenda to the RA Government decision N 351, dated April 2, 2009” (hereinafter referred to as the Draft) was placed in the RA Ministry of Justice unified website for publication of legal acts’ drafts for public discussion.
According to the author of the Draft, the RA legislation has not yet established cases and procedure of subjecting escorted persons to body search and inspecting personal belongings. In practice, body search of detained and arrested persons is conducted by relevant employees of escort subdivisions by customary law.
The Draft suggests complete body search in case an escort has grounds to suppose that a detained or arrested person might be carrying banned items, objects or food, whose discovery is not possible by partial inspection.
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor presents its position regarding the Draft.
Our stance is that search must be conducted in line with international standards with respect towards a person’s dignity and the right to inviolability of private life, maintaining proportionality, legality and principles of necessity. The invasive search of the body, including the search by undressing a person and body cavity search should be conducted only in extreme cases.
Body search may be viewed as torture, if it causes serious psychological suffering or physical pain to the person inspected. The danger that body search might be qualified as torture or other cruel, degrading treatment is particularly great in situations when such searches are conducted regularly, without strict necessity and disproportionally to special groups of detained persons.
HCA Vanadzor recommends the following.
- Edit the first sentence of point 82 as set by the draft in the following way, “Body search is conducted in full only in case of strict necessity, if the escort has grounds to suppose that the detained or arrested person might be carrying banned items, objects and food that are hard to identify by technical means envisaged for inspection”,
- Conduct body search in full in an isolated room with sufficient lighting, required temperature and sanitary-hygienic conditions,
- Edit point 84 set by the Draft the following way, “Body search is conducted by the principle of not violating the right to be free from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment”.
The full document is available HERE (in Armenian)