Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

The authorities should implement the policy of zero tolerance towards any case of violation of the right to be free from torture

June 27, 2023

Activities | Rights | Index of prohibition of torture | Right to Freedom from Torture | Project։ Raising Effectiveness of Protection of Citizens’ Rights in Relations with the Police | Project։ Combatting Torture and Ill Treatment in Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine | Publications | News | State Institutions

👥 The UN proclaimed 26 June the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

 

🤝Within the framework of its activities, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor has had its contribution torture prevention. Having been a member of the Civic Solidarity Platform’s working group on fight against torture, we have:

✅carried out monitoring,

✅presented the situation of the fight against torture in Armenia,

addressed, in many international platforms, the continuous practice of Azerbaijan’s torture and cruel treatment of ethnic Armenians.

 

❗️ Summing up the results of the Organization’s monitoring and analysis, we can record that over recent years, the measures undertaken by the state in the fight against torture have not only not been aimed at improving the existing situation, but have even deteriorated it since 2021. The setback was manifested not only in continuous torture cases and ineffective investigation into torture cases, but also termination of the functioning of the independent body investigating torture cases.

 

❗️  The state took the road of retreat and non-democratic solutions, while instead, it should have implemented continuous activities aimed at increasing effectiveness of investigation into torture cases, introduced toolkits, implemented systemic changes in the sphere of protecting the right to be free from torture, and ultimately directed protection of the right to the vector of development of a state governed by the rule of law. 

 

⭕️ LACK OF AN INDEPENDENT BODY INVESTIGATING TORTURE CASES

The state manifested ineffectiveness of the efforts taken in the fight against torture and lack of will in this sphere, when it terminated the functioning of the independent institutional body investigating torture cases, i.e., Special Investigation Service, and justified it by the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Committee. The state transferred the jurisdiction of torture investigation to the National Security Service, and later, on 5 May 2022, to the RA Investigative Committee.  Transferring torture investigation jurisdiction to the Investigative Committee was an artificial solution, since the RA Special Investigation Service was established to counteract persons implementing that service or other public services, while the RA Investigative Committee does not have the level of institutional and functional independence and impartiality required for investigating torture cases. The “mirroring” preliminary investigation conducted by the Anti-Corruption Committee and the Investigative Committee into torture cases allegedly perpetrated by investigators of those very agencies not only does not correspond to international standards, but can not ensure an effective, independent and unconstrained investigation. The Organization has noted many times and hereby reaffirms that an institutional and functionally independent and impartial body needs to be established in order to ensure compliance with effectiveness and international standards of torture investigation.  

 

⭕️ CONTINUOUSLY RECORDED TORTURE CASES  

2021: While being chased by a police car, a car crashed near Marts village, resulting in the death of two. After that, the police car was set on fire, which is why the police officers started to terrorize residents of Marts and nearby villages, and used violence against men in the villages. Based on the report filed by HCAV, the RA Special Investigative Service initiated a criminal case on account of allegedly using violence against participants and those suspected to have participated in the incident near Marts village. 

 

2022: On September 21, in the morning of the Republic of Armenia Independence Day, ahead of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s visit, police officers used violence to apprehend relatives of the fallen military servicemen, who were initially manifesting a peaceful and lawful conduct. By using disproportionate force and organizing an unlawful activity, the police officers apprehended 37 citizens, the majority of which were family members of fallen servicemen. During the action, the police officers caused body injuries to some of the parents of the fallen servicemen. HCAV filed a report, which was attached to the initiated criminal case. 

 

2023: Representatives of the RA Investigative Committee and Police of the RA Ministry of Internal Affairs carried out a search in Poligraf techno club and laid everyone in the club on the floor and transferred everyone to the police department by force. There, the club staff and visitors were subjected to beating and were stripped naked. HCAV undertook to protect the rights of those affected by the aforementioned activities.

*On June 17, advocate Karen Alaverdyan was subjected to violence in the Police Central Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Alaverdyan stated that he was a victim of violence, as the police officers used violence against his defendant and he tried to interfere. Prior to the incident, advocates Marzpet Avagyan and Emanuel Ananyan were also subjected to violence. They were representing the interests of their minor defendants. 

 

⭕️INSUFFICIENT INVESTIGATION INTO CASES OF TORTURE

In terms of procedural standards, we hereby record that there is an ongoing practice of improper documentation of cases of torture, which results in non-recognition of the fact of torture or ill-treatment. Addressing the inevitability and proportionality of the punishment for the corpus delicti under discussion, it should be recorded that not only some torture perpetrators (including policemen, representatives of management of penitentiary institutions) remained unpunished, but they were even promoted. 

 

As for the practice of compensation for torture survivors, there are no state-sponsored rehabilitation centers for torture survivors.

 

Summing up the practice of legal regulations, it should be recorded that 340 cases were investigated under torture features in 2022, 90 of which were dismissed. One criminal case was sent to court. Only one guilty verdict entered into force in March 2022.

 

HCAV once again stresses the absolute nature of prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the importance of protecting this rights even in situations that put in danger the population’s life, as well as emergency or war situations, and reminds that no retreat is admissible in the fight in this sphere, while solutions implying setbacks are condemnable.

 

Ultimately, based on the aforementioned, we find that the authorities do not manifest a proportionate political will, not to say there is no political will to guarantee the absolute right to be free from torture and degrading treatment.

 

✅ Following the principle “The human being is the highest value”, HCAV continues to provide free legal consultation to citizens, including torture survivors. You can contact us at 👇

 

📩 https://www.facebook.com/hca.vanadzor

☎️ +374 77 34 22 68

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