Law 14:15 24/04/2024 Armenia

U.S. State Department report reveals torture, arbitrary detentions in Armenia

The U.S. Department of State has released its annual 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, saying significant human rights issues in Armenia included credible reports of torture or cruel inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government, arbitrary arrest or detention, as well as serious problems with the independence of the judiciary.

The report claims Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's government took only limited credible steps to investigate and punish alleged human rights abuses by former and sitting government officials and law enforcement authorities.

The local NGO community expressed collective concern regarding a notable increase in reports that members of the security forces tortured or otherwise abused individuals in their custody with impunity. According to human rights lawyers, while the criminal code defined and criminalized torture, it did not criminalize other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Officials often investigated instances of torture under charges of abuse of power, leading to lighter punishments.

Since July 2022, the Investigative Committee was responsible for investigating most torture cases, but according to human rights lawyers, committee investigators lacked experience in such cases. While the National Security Service was in charge of investigating allegations of torture committed by the Investigative Committee, human rights lawyers found these investigations lacked the independence, transparency, and public oversight required for credible inquiries.

Human rights activists asserted impunity for old and new instances of law enforcement abuse continued to contribute to the persistence of the problem, with alleged perpetrators continuing to serve in their positions or being promoted. On July 12, the National Assembly adopted changes to the criminal code allowing for the release of a perpetrator from criminal responsibility due to “active remorse” in cases of grave and especially grave crimes, an approach previously limited to light- and medium-gravity crimes. In August, the president signed the bill into law despite the protest of civil society representatives, who stated it contradicted the country’s constitution and international human rights commitments and would exacerbate official impunity, violate the rights of victims, and serve as a political tool if applied selectively.

The local NGO community noted an increased number of reports of abuse by police, including in police stations, which, unlike prisons and police detention facilities, were not subject to public monitoring. On July 3, more than 30 NGOs issued a statement noting “unprecedented violence and instances of torture in police departments and other law enforcement agencies” in recent months, characterizing the violence as becoming systemic and revealing what they viewed as ineffective police and judicial reforms. The organizations noted that violence against attorneys was unprecedented and that additional cases indicated a growing trend of police impunity. They stated the government’s failure to promptly investigate reports and bring perpetrators to justice resulted in impunity and decreased public trust in the law enforcement system. According to the July 25 report by the Helsinki Citizens Assembly Vanadzor on monitoring of police reform, there were 199 reports of human rights violation by police during 2022, a 20 percent increase compared with 2021 and 54 percent increase compared with 2019.

Criminal justice bodies continued to rely on confessions and information obtained during questioning to secure convictions. According to human rights lawyers, procedural safeguards against mistreatment during police questioning, such as inadmissibility of evidence obtained through force or procedural violations, were insufficient, as was a video surveillance system that was installed in only a few police stations and had not yet been used in police mistreatment cases. According to human rights lawyers, while many cases occurred in Yerevan, the situation in regional police stations was worse.

According to human rights lawyers, the frequent use of pretrial detention forced suspects to bear the burden of proof to demonstrate they did not present a flight risk or would not hamper an investigation. Lawyers said court detention decisions were unpredictable, with different restrictions placed on defendants in similar circumstances.

According to prison monitors and human rights lawyers, excessive and in their view often unjustified pretrial detention was applied, despite government efforts to increase the use of alternatives to detention as part of the government’s penal reform.

According to official statistics, in 2022, only 25 percent of bail requests were granted, while courts granted 70 percent of government detention requests.

Although the law provided for an independent judiciary, the judiciary was not viewed as independent or impartial due to its history of corruption and political influence, resistance to reform, and high-profile scandals. There were unconfirmed reports of attempts by the government and elements of the former regime to influence judges. The high case load, lack of public trust, and allegations of government pressure discouraged professionals from applying to judgeships.

There were continued media reports of selective application of disciplinary proceedings against “unfavorable” judges, and reports of lack of transparency in the Ministry of Justice’s decision-making process on whether to submit cases to the SJC for disciplinary proceedings. There was similar lack of transparency and no public oversight over the decisions of the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission of the General Assembly of Judges, a self-governance body of judges. Human rights lawyers reported cooperation between the Ministry of Justice and SJC on disciplinary proceedings, further undermining the independence of the judiciary from the executive branch.

Share |
Տեքստում սխալ կամ վրիպակ նկատելու դեպքում, ուղարկեք խմբագրին հաղորդագրություն` նշելով տվյալ սխալը, այնուհետև սեղմելով Ctrl-Enter:


Archbishop says Armenian church not involved in protest movement
Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, the leader of the Tavush for the Homeland protest movement, rejects the Armenian leaders’ claims that the...
Russia says France provoking another escalation in South Caucasus
France is provoking another bout of escalation in the South Caucasus with its sale of Caesar howitzers to Armenia, TASS quoted Russian...
Lawyer: Reporter Abraham Gasparyan brutally beaten by 20 police officers
Lawyer Arsen Babayan denounced the “unprecedented” police violence against protesters demanding Prime Minister Nikol...
Protest movement in Armenia to continue with new momentum, leader says
The protest movement aimed at ousting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his government will continue in Armenia with new momentum, says its...
Armenian defense minister meets with Macron's military adviser
Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan on Wednesday held a meeting with General Fabien Mandon, French President Emmanuel Macron's...
Amendments to SFOPS bill call for increased funding for Armenia
Armenian Caucus Co-Chair, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) has offered a bipartisan amendment with Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) to the FY25...
Tatoyan Foundation releases report on police violence against protesters in Yerevan
The Tatoyan Foundation has released a special report on the police violence against protesters outside the Armenian parliament on June 12....
Foreign Ministry: Baku's reaction to Armenia-France military cooperation causes confusion
Azerbaijan's reaction to  the Armenia-France military-technical cooperation by official Baku causes confusion, the Armenian...
Opposition MP: Armenian government conceded strategic advantage in Syunik
Opposition MP Tigran Abrahamyan has reacted to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s latest trip to Syunik Province, highlighting that he...
Albania charged by UEFA over fan trouble during Euro 2024 Italy clash
The Albanian FA has been charged by European football's governing body for fan troubles during their Euro 2024 match against Italy on...
Archbishop Bagrat unveils next steps of protest movement
Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan unveiled the next steps of the Tavush for the Homeland protest movement led by him at a news conference on...
At least 550 hajj pilgrims die in Mecca amid extreme heat
At least 550 pilgrims have died during the hajj, underscoring the gruelling nature of the pilgrimage which again unfolded in scorching...
The regime that rules Armenia has crossed all red lines: must be disposed of ASAP
By Harut Sassounian I am deeply disappointed and saddened by the events that took place in Armenia last...
Catholicos Aram I seeks Iran's support for release of Armenian prisoners in Azerbaijan
His Holiness Catholicos Aram I on Tuesday received Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Moujtaba Amani, accompanied by embassy political officials....
EU brings relief to victims of floods in Armenia
Following the flash floods in Armenia’s Lori and Tavush regions in May, the European Union is providing €100 000 in humanitarian...
Pashinyan, Erdogan hold phone call
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Tuesday had a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the...
LIVE: Yerevan court continues preliminary hearings in case against opposition activists
The Criminal Court in Yerevan on Tuesday resumed preliminary hearings in the case involving opposition activists Narek Samsonyan and Vazgen...
Pro-Western Armenia has no chance for survival in South Caucasus, expert says
Political scientist Hrant Mikayelyan believes Armenia has no chance to survive in the South Caucasus by pursuing a pro-Western course. In an...
Rain, thunderstorms expected in Armenia
Rain and thunderstorms coupled with strong winds are expected in Armenia's regions on Tuesday and in the next few days. Hail is possible...
Scientists build 'digital twin' of Earth
Scientists have built a highly accurate digital simulation of planet Earth to provide reliable information about extreme weather and climate...
20 measles cases confirmed in Armenia in one week
20 more measles cases were confirmed in Armenia in the past week, bringing the total to 472, the health authorities reported. Three measles...
Lawyer decries unlawful arrests of ARF activists
Lawyer Arsen Babayan has denounced the “unlawful” arrests of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) activists in Vayots Dzor...
IPI: Anyone responsible for violence against journalists in Yerevan must be held accountable
The International Press Institute (IPI) global network on Monday released a statement condemning the police violence against...
MP slams 'despicable' government campaign against ARF
Opposition Hayastan faction MP Artsvik Minasyan, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), denounced Prime Minister Nikol...
Tuesday's Euro 2024 fixtures
Matchday 1 of UEFA Euro 2024 concludes with the first two games in Group F, with Georgia cast as underdogs on their tournament debut...
Pashinyan seeks referendum for more land surrender to Azerbaijan, MP says
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan seeks a referendum for the surrender of four more villages to Azerbaijan, claims opposition MP Tigran...
Armenia to purchase CAESAR howitzers from France
Armenia has signed a contract with France for the purchase of 155mm self-propelled CAESAR howitzers, French Defense Minister...
Berlinale Golden Bear winner 'Dahomey' to be screened at Golden Apricot
"Dahomey", the Berlinale Golden Bear-winning film directed by Mati Diop, is among the Yerevan premieres of the 21st Golden...
Armenia, France sign military cooperation agreement
Armenia and France signed a new military-technical agreement on Monday when Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan visited France, his...
Kylian Mbappe fractures nose at Euro 2024
Kylian Mbappe suffered a broken nose during France's opening game at Euro 2024 but will not need immediate surgery, BBC Sport reports....

Follow us and get updates!

Most popular articles

{"core.blocks.header.spell_message1":"Selected mistake: ","core.blocks.header.spell_message2":"Send a message about the mistake?"}