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On February 26 and July 22, HCA Vanadzor received replies from the RA Special Investigation Service pertaining to the two queries on criminal cases initiated on the ground of torture.
As of February 25, 2019, 15 criminal cases on the ground of torture were being investigated in the RA Special Investigation Service, 2 other cases were already in the court.
Since the date of its formation, i.e. 2006, until July 1, 2019, the RA Special Investigation Service investigated 126 criminal cases on the ground of torture.
With the purpose of fulfilling the undertaken obligations with regard to the RA citizens subjected to torture, the RA adopted the RA Law “On making amendments and addenda to the RA Civil Code”. On January 9, 2017, the latter entered into force. It defines the procedure and conditions of compensating torture survivors. And on October 26, 2017, the RA Government made the decision on “Determining the procedure and conditions of torture survivors’ use of psychological services for torture survivors”, which entered into force on November 9 of the same year.
Nevertheless, the legal acts concerning the provision of compensation and psychological service for torture survivors that entered into force 2 years ago factually do not act.
Since 2018, HCA Vanadzor has been trying to clarify from the RA Government how the mentioned decision of the Government is implemented.
These two legal acts have been adopted for two years. However, as the responses to our queries show, they are not implemented.
Thus, the RA Ministry of Justice decided not to consider the information queries on the implementation of the mentioned decisions of the Government sent by HCA Vanadzor on February 26, 2018 and September 28, 2018 to be information queries. Instead, the RA Ministry of Justice qualified them as a request to clarify and comment on a legal act and refused to respond. At that time RA Deputy Minister of Justice transiently mentioned that steps are taken in that direction together with the head of YSU Center of Applied Psychology. He gave no answer with regard to our questions pertaining to the implementation of the Government’s decision. We tried to find out how the services determined by the decision were provided, in what timeframe, where and who delivered them. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, we did not receive any substantive response.
Unlike the former Minister, the RA Ministry of Justice tried to respond, even though formally, to our two queries sent in September 2019.
In the queries addressed to R. Badasyan, the Minister of Justice, we asked how many torture survivors had received compensation, in how many cases subrogation demand was presented to the torturer, how many persons received a compensation for medical aid and how many persons had received free legal and psychological support. With regard to compensations, N. Ghazaryan, Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice, referred us to apply to the Ministry of Finance. As for the rest of the queries, he mentioned that for the purpose of the provision of support, discussions were held with the YSU Center of Applied Psychology.
The Ministry of Finance has not responded to our query yet.
N. Ghazaryan also informed that since November 2019, the new project of the Council of Europe will be launched. The project is called “Strengthening the Health Care and Human Rights Protection in Prisons in Armenia”. In the frame of the project, it is envisaged to improve the provision of psychological services to torture survivors. As he stated, in the frame of this very project they were going to implement the legal acts that had entered into force 2 years before.
He did not provide any answers with regard to the rest of the questions, since, as he stated, the center providing psychological services actually did not work and therefore it was not possible to answer those questions.
While in the case of Asya Khachatryan, who was subjected to degrading treatment in the Police of Artsakh, the following occurred. Though the case was initiated by the RA Prosecutor General’s Office and sent to the RA Special Investigation Service, an application was sent to the RA Ministry of Justice to get a psychological support and in May 2018, the latter referred to apply to the authorities of Artsakh, since the incident had occurred there.
Thus, the former government never fulfilled the undertaken obligation of providing torture survivors with rehabilitation psychological support.
Based on the answers received from the new government, we assume that in the spheres of the provision of rehabilitation psychological support, social support and pecuniary and non-pecuniary compensation to citizens subjected to torture, the State is planning to fulfill the obligation to prevent torture with the support of international projects, particularly, the projects implemented by the Council of Europe.
At the same time, we find that there is still a lack of clarity and certainty with regard to the timeframe of the implementation, the volumes of the means to be allocated and the establishment of institutes.
It is noteworthy that we have been sending such queries to the Ministry of Justice for 2 years on end both before and after the revolution. However, while before the revolution they tried to avoid responding by groundless comments, after the change of the Minister they asked for some time to respond and finally they record that in reality, no tangible step was made to fulfill the obligation undertaken by the State.
And under such conditions, the Penitentiary Service forbids the psychologist to enter the penitentiary institution and provide psychological support to life-sentenced A. Kocharyan, who was subjected to and survived torture.
Both applications on this matter sent by HCA Vanadzor on June 10 and July 19, 2019, were rejected. The Penitentiary Service reasoned that a psychologist was not a doctor and could only use the possibility to visit (which is restricted in case of a life-sentenced person).
On the one hand, the State does not provide it and on the other hand, it rejects individual initiatives.
All this shows that the State obligations to protect the rights of persons subjected to torture continue to remain unfulfilled.