Un Committee Against Torture To Examine Armenia’s Record On Torture


States News Service
May 9, 2012 Wednesday

The following information was released by International Federation
for Human Rights (FIDH):

This week, Armenia’s torture record is up for review by the UN
Committee against Torture. A report submitted to the UN monitoring body
by FIDH and Civil Society Institute (CSI), its member organization in
Armenia, highlights three failures of the state with regard to torture
and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishments:
failure to properly criminalize torture, failure to prevent it in
police facilities or detention centers, and failure to hold accountable
those responsible. The report provides the Committee with information
on both the legal system and state practice in the country, illustrated
by concrete cases that cover a wide range of torture practices.

Criminalization of torture

The Committee Against Torture previously called for legislative
amendments to be undertaken in order to bring the definition of torture
in line with Article 1 of the UN Convention against torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishments (UNCAT). However,
no legislative amendments have been made so far. [1] CSI and FIDH
thus call on the Committee to urge Armenia to make amendments to
the Criminal Code and relevant legislation to define torture and
ill-treatment according to the provisions of the UNCAT.


Inadequate measures to prevent acts of torture

Presently, most acts of torture are inflicted by law enforcement
officials during arrest and interrogation, mainly with the aim
of obtaining confessions. FIDH and CSI call on the Committee to
recommend a full reform of the judicial system in order to ensure
an early access to a lawyer, notification of a relative, information
on rights, medical examination and other safeguards from the moment
of a person’s de facto apprehension, regardless of its legal status
according to law. [3] These measures are key to prevent torture and
mistreatment when in the hands of police.


Conditions of detention in Armenia are an other area of concern,
particularly regarding poor medical care and the overcrowding in some
penitentiary institutions. Moreover, complaint mechanisms in prisons
do not operate effectively, because of a lack of confidentiality
which undermines the ability to bring a complaint to the attention
of the outside world. [4]


The independence and effectiveness of investigations into allegations
of torture are compromised because the police itself is in charge
of such investigations. A Special Investigation Service (SIS) was
established in 2007 to specialize in investigating cases involving
possible abuses by public officials. However, in practice, the
prosecutor’s office does not send all allegations of torture to the SIS
for investigation, and police investigators continue to handle most of
these cases. Communications about torture are therefore investigated
within the framework of the very entity to which the perpetrators of
torture themselves belong. Moreover, most cases of police mistreatment
continue to be unreported due to fears of retaliation. The Committee
should thus urge Armenia to take measures to ensure the independent,
efficient investigation of cases of torture and ill-treatment. [5]
As stated in detail in the report, the Committee must urge Armenian
authorities to urgently address the following issues as crucial steps
towards fulfilling their obligations under the Convention. [6]

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