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In contrast to the Minister’s announcements, the Penitentiary Service cannot ensure the safety of convicts in penitentiary institutions

October 31, 2018

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On August 7, 2018, the RA Ministry of Justice Penitentiary Service once again refused to transfer ‘Nubarashen’ penitentiary institution’s convict A.I. to ‘Artik’ penitentiary institution, reasoning that the latter has hostile relations with a number of convicts of ‘Artik’ penitentiary institution and hence security problems will arise.

However, the RA Ministry of Justice Penitentiary Service does not comment as to what problems there are and with whom they are connected.

Meanwhile, convict A. I.’s wife, who has applied to Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor with this question, claims that the convict does not have hostile relationship with any of the ‘Artik’ penitentiary institution’s convicts, and therefore there might not be any security problems.

On September 6, 2018, HCA Vanadzor applied to the RA Ministry of Justice with the question of presenting Penitentiary Service decisions with respective arguments. In the letter to the Minister, HCA Vanadzor mentioned, that in the decision of refusing to transfer convict A.I. to another penitentiary institution, it is not clarified as to what problems A.I. had and with which convicts exactly they were, moreover, the reasons for these hostile relations are also not explained.

In the letter addressed to the Minister, we also emphasized that even if there are hostile relations and ensuing security problems, each penitentiary institution has corresponding measures, human and material resources to properly ensure the safety of convicts.

In the letter dated September 26, 2018, the RA Ministry of Justice Penitentiary Service first deputy head M. Mikayelyan again replied with a similar content, stating that A.I. had tense interpersonal relations with a number of convicts and currently it was impossible to transfer him to ‘Artik’ penitentiary institution for the sake of ensuring A.I.’s safety.

It should be noted that the Penitentiary Service again gave an abstract answer and by giving an ungrounded answer, actually evaded the application’s main question of providing arguments on the decisions.

Refusing to transfer convicts on the grounds of having tense relationship contradicts minister A. Zeynalyan’s statements that the situation in the RA penitentiary institutions has changed – charges for the cell and bed, urging prisoners to get involved in card games have been abolished and there are no ‘zone supervisors’ anymore.   

Judging from the responses given by the Penitentiary Service, it can be assumed that the Minister’s announcements do not correspond to reality and that there is no control over persons serving sentences in ‘Artik’ penitentiary institution and the RA Ministry of Justice Penitentiary Service can not provide safety of persons serving sentence in ‘Artik’ penitentiary institution.

Today, on October 31, 2018, HCA Vanadzor again applied to the RA Minister of Justice A. Zeynalyan with this question.

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