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Human Rights Situation in the Republic of Armenia Under the State of Emergency Established for the Prevention of COVID-19 Pandemic (From 16.03.2020 to 16.05.2020). Report. Part 3

May 22, 2020

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Cases of violations of the absolute right to be free from torture or inhuman or degrading treatment are worrisome

 

On 16 March 2020, by Decision No. 298-N the RA Government declared a one-month state of emergency in the whole territory of Armenia in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). Taking into account the indicators of the spread of the new coronavirus disease, by the decision of the Government of the Republic of Armenia the state of emergency has been extended until 13.06.2020.

 

From 16.03.2020 to 16.05.2020, 8 citizens applied to the organization (Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor) with cases of degrading treatment, physical and psychological violence, and torture by police officers.

 

For details, see HERE

 

Summing up the actions of the police under the state of emergency in the context of fundamental human rights and freedoms, it should be clearly stated that some police officers, without a clear understanding of the scope of their powers and without realizing that the principal mission of the police system is to protect persons’ rights (especially under a state of emergency), have gone beyond their authority and violated the fundamental rights of individuals – subjected people to physical or psychological violence, thereby exacerbating the situation of people.

 

We believe that such a practice is unacceptable. Moreover, the state should take all measures to exclude such behavior of police officials, as it is still unclear how long the state of emergency will last given the indicators of the spread of coronavirus. The police officers must immediately stop this behavior, practice and stop violence and degrading treatment against people."

 

During the state of emergency, the special role and mission of law enforcement agencies further increase the responsibility of every police officer in terms of respect for human rights.

 

During the state of emergency, the special role and mission of law enforcement agencies further increase the responsibility of every police officer in terms of respect for human rights.

 

It is noteworthy that the number of cases of torture by police officers during a state of emergency exceeds the number of cases recorded during the last year prior to the state of emergency.

 

Thus, it should be noted that some police officials, taking advantage of the expansion of the scope of police powers under the state of emergency for objective reasons and the temptation of the "new toolkit" given to them, abuse a wide range of powers, which results in grave violations of human rights. If such practice continues, the Armenian police may soon lose the level of public confidence gained after the revolution.

 

The leadership of the RA Police should have constant control, should implement necessary instructions and trainings for the police officers aimed at developing approaches and capacities to be guided by the principles of respect for human rights when dealing with citizens under the state of emergency.

 

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