June 13, 2019
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Civilian Oversight and Monitoring
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor presents the comparative image of 2015-2017 indexes characterizing the activity of the RA law enforcement bodies.
The survey has been conducted on the whole territory of the Republic of Armenia since 2015. Before that, a pilot survey was conducted in the RA northern regions in 2013.
The study conducted in 2017 and the comparison of its findings with the findings of similar studies conducted in 2015 and 2016 revealed a number of patterns and trends in public perceptions of the activity of the law enforcement agencies.
- The values of the Index of the Law Enforcement Agencies’ Arbitrariness8 and the Index of Trust in the Police are directly linked with the social and political developments taking place in the country and the level of involvement of the law enforcement agencies in those developments. It is obvious from the fluctuations in the indicators of those two indices from 2015 to 2017. The values of those indices decreased since the Patrol-Sentry Service Regiment had been seized, and the way the law enforcement agencies acted changed during the subsequent incidents. In that period, the society characterized the activity of the law enforcement agencies as a means used by the political force in power to suppress the political opposition. Moreover, in 2016, the Index of the Law Enforcement Agencies’ Arbitrariness was negative; it was below 0.9 In 2017, this index increased; despite being positive, it was was close to 0 nevertheless. This means that there are still issues in the law enforcement agencies. These issues are of concern to the society.
- The indicators of one of the component indices of this index, namely the Public Concern Index, were always negative (from 2015 to 2017), which is clear evidence that arbitrary and unlawful actions manifested by the law enforcement agencies remain a serious issue for the society. The use of the law enforcement agencies by the authorities as a means to suppress the opposition is a factor that concerns the society and has a negative effect on the assessment of the activity of the law enforcement agencies. One of the facts serving as evidence for this is that, according to the data of all the researches conducted from 2015 to 2017, the least safe/secure places for the society are crowded places at social and/or political mass events.
- The values of the Index of Arbitrariness of the Law Enforcement Agencies were always (from 2015 to 2017) the lowest in Yerevan City. The indices of this index were low among the urban population (in comparison with the population of urban communities) and among males (in comparison with females). In both cases, one of the potential reasons for the low indicators might be the fact that the representatives of the mentioned groups are more active in socio-economic and political processes; therefore their responses and judgments are rather based on personal experience and observations. Almost all the indices are high among the representatives of the “26-35” age group, i.e. the younger generation. In contrast, these indices are low among the “36 and over” age group, i.e. middle-aged and older adults. The researches of 2015-2017 also revealed the trend that the indices assessing the activity of the law enforcement agencies were greatly influenced by the level of the surveyees’ education. The higher the level of education, the lower the Index of Arbitrariness of the Law Enforcement Agencies and its component indices. In contrast, the lower the level of education, the higher the positive values of this index. The data of the researches conducted in 2015-2017 revealed the link between the Index of the Law Enforvement Agencies’ Arbitrariness (as well as all its component indices) and the amount of the average monthly household income of the surveyees. In almost all the cases, the low indicators prevail among those who marked the answer “350001 AMD and more”.
- Negative or the lowest positive assessments were given to the values of the Index of the Law Enforcement Agencies’ Arbitrariness as well as nearly all its component indices by the surveyees who marked the answer “Insufficient money to buy food”, i.e. those who consider themselves as socially insecure. The findings of the 2017 research are the only exception; the values of the Index of Legal Arbitrariness and its component, namely the Personal Concern Index, are the lowest among those who indicated the option “Sufficient money only to buy food.” All this serves as evidence for the fact that there is a logical link between the values of the Index of the Law Enforcement Agencies’ Arbitrariness as well as almost all of its component indices and the economic status of the surveyees.
- According to the data of the researches conducted in 2016-2017, the assessments of the work of the law enforcement agencies were observed in accordance with what main sources of information the surveyees had. Thus, the surveyees who mainly obtain information through television are mostly inclined to give positive assessments, whereas those using social networks and online press gave more negative assessments. One of the reasons for these sharp differences may be the fact that television is mostly considered to be controlled by the authorities and presents information which is beneficial to the current authorities. This serves as evidence for the lack of objectivity of television. Unlike television, online press is partly not controlled by the authorities, and social networks are not controlled by them at all; therefore these sources are freer to mostly present the objective reality.
- The findings of the researches conducted in 2015-2017 were also observed according to the amount of the surveyees’ average monthly household income. Nearly in all the cases, the values of the Index of the Law Enforcement Agencies’ Arbitrariness as well as all its component indices were given negative or the lowest positive assessments by the surveyees whose average monthly household income constituted “350001 AMD and more”.
- In spite of the fact that the indices fluctuated according to the research findings of different years, the indicators of the Index of Trust in the Police were always positive (over 30). This serves as evidence for the fact that although people attribute to the Police characteristics such as arbitrariness, unlawfulness and activity aimed at providing political services to the authorities, there are expectations of the Police as a law enforcement agency in public consciousness.
- The Index of Trust in the Police was the lowest in Yerevan, among the urban population (in contrast to the rural population) and among males (in contrast to females).
- The Index of Trust in the Police was higher among the surveyees who mainly obtain their information from television in contrast to those who give their preference to electronic sources of information.
Hence, steps need to be taken to increase public trust in the Police, which should be based on a radical change in the way the Police operates and in its mission. The provision that the Police fulfills its duties set by the law should be rooted in public consciousness. When the Police starts to ensure people’s security unconditionally, to prevent or to stop crimes and administrative offenses, to solve crimes regardless of the chains where those crimes are/were committed, to ensure maintenance of social order and social security without bias and so forth, trust in the Police will be built among the society.
The mass media, which cover their activity, have an immense role in this and can substantially change the public opinion.
Taking into consideration the fact that the assessments of the law enforcement agencies vary from region to region, the law enforcement agencies should conduct the assessment and management of their activity in a differentiated manner according to regions, taking into account the public opinion of each region.
The REPORT presents in detail the methodology of the survey, who were questioned and what results were recorded.
The appendices are available HERE.