Law 15:38 03/04/2020 Armenia

Armenian ombudsman: Authorities should resort more to alternatives to deprivation of liberty

The confirmed coronavirus infections among the employees of Vardashen Penitentiary in Yerevan rose serious concerns about persons deprived of their liberty, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the older persons, who are at-risk groups.

What does Human Rights Defender of Armenia Arman Tatoyan think on the matter and are any measures being taken to preserve their health or is it more appropriate to release them on bail, put them under house arrest or keep them in solitary confinement?

In response to Panorama.am's question, the ombudsman said:

“The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has recently published a statement of principles in Armenian concerning the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and submitted them to the relevant authorities to apply them.

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture said the relevant authorities should resort more to alternatives to deprivation of liberty, including commutation of sentences, early release and probation.

As regards the provision of health care, special attention will be required to the specific needs of detained persons with particular regard to vulnerable groups and/or at-risk groups, such as older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions. This includes, inter alia, screening for COVID-19 and pathways to intensive care as required. Further, detained persons should receive additional psychological support from staff at this time.

A number of international organizations have made similar calls.

In regard to the issue raised by you to release detained persons at-risk groups on bail, it should be noted that i is for the bodies conducting preliminary investigation or judicial proceedings in specific criminal cases to decide on the issue.”

The statement issued by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment read, in part: “As close personal contact encourages the spread of the virus, concerted efforts should be made by all relevant authorities to resort to alternatives to deprivation of liberty. Such an approach is imperative, in particular, in situations of overcrowding. Further, authorities should make greater use of alternatives to pre-trial detention, commutation of sentences, early release and probation; reassess the need to continue involuntary placement of psychiatric patients; discharge or release to community care, wherever appropriate, residents of social care homes; and refrain, to the maximum extent possible, from detaining migrants.” 



Source Panorama.am
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