Prosecutors of the Department for the Supervision of the Lawfulness of Punishment and Enforcement behave harshly towards the convicts who have spent more than 20 years in detention.

One after the other, the decisions of the Ministry of Justice’s placement commission on easing their detention regime are annulled, and the lifers who have been targeted by the prosecutor’s office respond to this with an extreme protest action – a hunger strike.

It should be reminded that, according to the new penitentiary code that came into force in July 2019, in case of positive behavior, a lifer can be transferred to a semi-closed correctional facility after serving 15 years, and after 18 years in prison he can be transferred to a semi-open regime where the doors are not locked and he enters and exits freely, works, visits his/her family, and spends only the night in the penitentiary. However, the prosecutor’s office refuses to comply with this law.

Recently, in September-October, decisions on 5 lifers, Aram Petrosyan, Armen Ter-Sahakyan, Alik Grigoryan, Artak Alekyan, Tsolak Melkonyan, were suspended. Armen Ter-Sahakyan had also demanded that journalists visit him.

According to our information, after the visit of our “Aravot” newspaper journalist Ruzan Minasyan on October 8, Prosecutor Isakhanyan went to meet him and the other hunger strikers. He promised that a positive solution would be found to the issue of regime change. The lifers have ended the hunger strike.

One of them, Aram Petrosyan, is extremely exhausted and in a serious condition.

“But if the issue is not resolved, we will go on hunger strike again,” Armen Ter-Sahakyan told us through his son.

To date, not all convicts have been provided with grounds to suspend the decisions of the Ministry of Justice’s Placement Commission. Aram Petrosyan, for example, did not receive his decision. Those who received, Artak Alekyan and Armen Ter-Sahakyan, are going to appeal them in court.

“People who have spent more than 20 years in cages, who have already been transferred to semi-open institutions, are being returned to their old places of detention, such as Nubarashen and Armavir penitentiaries, with primitive, strange explanations that the convicts did not show positive behavior, that they had fines in the past (although the penalty, according to the law, disappears after 6 months), have slandered. By the way, slander as a misdemeanor gives a great opportunity for a subjective approach, as even expressing one’s own opinion can be considered slander.

The justifications given by the prosecutor’s office are sometimes even ridiculous. Depriving people of a semi-open regime with those “reasons” is inadmissible.

“Armen Ter-Sahakyan was deprived of a semi-open regime. One of the reasons for the decision is that although he used to take part in sports events, at that time no representatives of federations were involved in those competitions. But at that time nothing like that was written in the law, it is now that, according to the new law, there must be a representative from one of the federations during every sport event. How are they to blame for the fact that such a law did not exist at that time?” said Ter-Sahakyan’s son Abgar Ter-Sahakyan. He says that the supervising prosecutor mainly bases the suspensions on what happened in the past. “But no one looks at what those prosecutors themselves have done in the past.”

P.S. The Penitentiary Service denies that the supervising prosecutor visited the lifers.

Lifer Aram Petrosyan has been on hunger strike since September 13, Armen Ter-Sahakyan — since September 27, and Alik Grigoryan — since September 29.

The above-mentioned lifers went on a hunger strike due to the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office, according to which the decision of the Central Commission for the Placement of the Penitentiary Service of the RA Ministry of Justice was suspended.

“Aram Petrosyan was visited by the employees of the Department of Social, Psychological and Legal Affairs, which is the Central Body of the Penitentiary Service, the supervising prosecutor, as well as the representatives of the Human Rights Defender. Prosecutor Isakhanyan did not visit them, “said spokeswoman Nona Navikyan.

Syuzan Simonyan

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