Yesterday, the head of the Journalists for Human Rights NGO, human rights activist Zhanna Aleksanyan, alerted on her Facebook page that masked men had broken into the cell of one of the convicts in the Nubarashen penitentiary and are “killing” him.

“According to the signal [we received], masked men are killing other convicts as well. I call on the relevant bodies, the monitoring group, the hotline of the Defender’s Office to pay attention to the issue and to take urgent measures or to visit [the penitentiary].”

According to the human rights activist, masked men severely beat at least two convicts.

Hours after the tocsin, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Justice Lusine Martirosyan commented on her Facebook page. According to the speaker, the current legislative regulations entitle the penitentiary employees to use “proportionate physical force and special means” in cases of non-fulfillment or obstruction of legal requirements.

“In penitentiaries, in accordance with the law, unplanned searches are regularly carried out in order to find prohibited items in the cells.

In order to exclude gross violations of the requirements of the internal regulations, if necessary, the employees of different subdivisions of the central body, including the employees of the special purpose department, are also involved in the events,” the speaker explains.

Forrights contacted Hasmik Harutyunyan, the head of the group of public observers monitoring the penitentiaries, who has been in the Nubarashen penitentiary since early morning. According to her, the Ministry of Justice will make an urgent statement on yesterday’s incident, and the Prosecutor General’s Office will submit a report.

“We had a private conversation with the convicts on the spot, we observed separate cells, made protocols, which will be sent to the Ministry of Justice. Within five days, immediately after receiving an answer, we will publish the details of our visit,” Harutyunyan said.

Referring to the communication by the Ministry of Justice yesterday about the legality of physical force and special means, the head of the monitoring group noted that in each case the use of special means and force must take place on specific grounds, respecting the principle of proportionality:

“You should know what you are doing and for what, having the primary goal of protecting the rights of an imprisoned or detained person. There should be no violation of the principle of proportionality; the measures used should not be more than the intended pursuit. You cannot harm or worsen the health of a prisoner by your actions.”

In his turn, Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan sent a rapid response team to Nubarashen penitentiary. During the visit, it was found out that 3 detainees were in the punishment cell at the time of the incident described in the alert․

“Private conversations took place with all of them. During a private conversation, one of the detainees submitted a written application to the Human Rights Defender regarding the incident. Necessary studies were conducted during the rapid response visit.

During the visit, such information was registered, which is subject to verification within the framework of the procedure envisaged by the Criminal Procedure Code.”

Based on the results of the rapid response visit and on the written application addressed to the Human Rights Defender, a relevant letter will be sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office tomorrow morning, which will include the verification of the information recorded by the Human Rights Defender’s staff. Another letter will be sent to the Ministry of Justice.

Roza Vardanyan

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