“Rustam Badasyan turns a blind eye to the situation in penitentiaries․ We have extraordinary cases and no explanation whatsoever”

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“This form of extrajudicial “justice”, which could beat and thrash unprotected people inside prisons, and then explanation that they are fighting against the criminal subculture, is unacceptable,” said Zhanna Aleksanyan, President of The Journalists for Human Rights NGO, during a press conference, referring to the fact that prisoners were beaten in a cell of Nubarashen penitentiary yesterday.

Human rights activist strongly criticizes the work of the Ministry of Justice․ “Gentlemen, you have made a revolution, stop the violence!” she said, emphasizing that during this government the human rights situation in the law enforcement system is the same as before. “There is no prosecutorial control, there is no parliamentary control․ There is no reaction. The “My Step” parliamentary faction does not react to this situation at all, meanwhile, we remember that, when still a deputy, Nikol Pashinyan always visited such extraordinary cases. I must say that I do not see much difference between the former authorities in cases of violence, and now. And, the same is true regarding the situation in the police forces.”

The human rights activist considers the situation in the penitentiaries very worrying and, according to her, the institutions should have been more open to the media․

“I notice tendencies that are being more covered up than before,” said Zhanna Alexanyan.

It should be noted that the spokesperson of the Minister of Justice Lusine Martirosyan informed on her Facebook page that searches are regularly carried out in penitentiaries in order to find prohibited items in the cells. Employees of various subdivisions of the body, including the special purpose unit members, are often involved in these searches, if needed:

 “It should be borne in mind that, according to the current legislation, penitentiaries are entitled to use proportionate physical force and special measures in case of non-compliance or obstruction of legal requirements,” Lusine Martirosyan wrote.

Human rights activist Zhanna Aleksanyan considers this explanation misleading:

“I have been described in detail the situation of the beaten, it is a difficult situation. I think the Minister of Justice Rustam Badasyan was obliged to explain why there are such cases of violence in the penitentiaries under his jurisdiction. But, instead, they have spread an explanation about the use of proportional force.

If you send special forces consisting of 20 people, who should resist you? What resistance is being talked about, what proportional force is being talked about? How much can these false expressions be put into circulation?” Zhanna Aleksanyan expressed her indignation.

The human rights activist specified that, lately, these kind of complains mainly come from Armavir and Nubarashen penitentiaries.

Alexanyan emphasizes that she regularly receives information about the beating of detainees, but the relevant bodies turn a blind eye to these human rights violations.

“You know that in February, they broke into one of the cells where Vahagn Abgaryan was being held, stabbed him and severely beat him. According to official information, it happened with the permission of the head of the Nubarashen prison, who was transferred to another prison as a punishment, which means that no punishment really followed in those cases,” notes Zhanna Aleksanyan.

“Even one case of violence in a penitentiary is inadmissible,” said the head of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor office Arthur Sakunts.

The human rights activist is concerned about the fact that during the past two years before the revolutionary period, nobody raised the issue of those mass violations, about which we reported in separate episodes.”

“If a situation had changed, the situation should have changed for the detainees as well, that is, they should have already known that it was encouraged to speak out about the violations against them,” said Artur Sakunts.

“Nothing has changed in the penitentiary service; moreover, the head of the penitentiary is again appointed by the Prime Minister, who has direct responsibility for that situation,” the human rights activist noted.

According to Artur Sakunts, the Ministry of Justice has no political will to make changes in the penitentiary system.

“Operational efforts should be made to solve systemic problems, vetting should be carried out, penitentiaries should be released from such employees, who continue to see the prisoners in terms of the logic of punitive action, i.e., if it is not enough that they are punished, imprisoned, they are being subjected to additional punishment, which is a gross human rights violation,” he noticed.

It should be noted that under the supervision of the Erebuni-Nubarashen administrative district’s prosecutor’s office, materials are being prepared in Nubarashen penitentiary to find out the case that took place in the prison recently, Gor Abrahamyan, adviser to the Prosecutor General, reports. The prosecutor’s office requested to prepare materials for referring them to the Special Investigation Service (SIS) for further investigation to ensure an impartial, comprehensive investigation.

“How can one believe the Prosecutor General’s Office, when, in the case of Vahagn Abgaryan’s assassination attempt, there are no suspect, no accused, that is, the case is dead, it does not interest the Prosecutor General,” said Human Rights Defender Zhanna Aleksanyan. “The Prosecutor General himself decides not to disclose the case, and, to trust that they will punish the special forces as a result of preparing these materials, is of the fantasy genre.”

“They use violence, and then they themselves decide whether it is proportionate or not. The Minister of Justice Rustam Badasyan turns a blind eye to the situation in the penitentiaries; we have extraordinary cases and no explanation to the public whatsoever,” said human rights activist Zhanna Aleksanyan.