The Penitentiary Service responded to our publication of May 6 “Deputies of the head of the Nubarashen penitentiary break the furniture and floors of the cells under the pretenses of search”.

In the article, presented how the employees of the Nubarashen Penitentiary entered the cell 004 of the 4th building for the purpose of search and smashed the poor property of the convicts kept there.

Mekhak Grigoryan, one of the convicts held there, said that even the walls and floor tiles were not spared, and this happenes in a detention center where the building conditions are the worst in Armenia, and the prison has been in need of major repairs for many years.

Responding to, the Public Relations Department of the Penitentiary Service informs that, on May 8, the cell 004 was searched and mobile phones were found.

“On May 8, at around 21:00, the officers of the operational and security departments of the Nubarashen penitentiary institution of the RA Ministry of Internal Affairs, having clear information that prohibited items are kept in cell 004, once again conducted a search in the cell 004 you indicated.

As a result of the search, a mobile phone with a subscription card was found in a sports bag on one of the beds; another mobile phone with its subscription card was found under the pillow of the other bed in the same cell.

I should add that the officers also found a mobile phone with a subscription card from the hiding place of another cell. Appropriate proceedings have been initiated”, – informs the head of the Public Relations Department Nona Navikyan.

When asked why they don’t initiate proceedings for smashing the cell, she answered: “They didn’t break into pieces… there is nothing like that. They did not break property; they are exaggerating because they were afraid that their phones would be found.”

It follows from the response of the Central Security Service that the new search in the cell 004 was carried out two days after our publication, that is, on May 8.

It is therefore obvious that this was done to punish the disobedient, protesting convicts of this cell.

Finding the convict’s cell phone, the only way to communicate with the world, by searching and depriving the convict of it, is a traditional and reliable form of punishment in Armenian prisons.

It has been known for a long time, and it has been written about it multiple of times, that the mobile phone is a business object in the detention center. The mobile phones confiscated during the search are later returned to the owners or to other convicts in return for certain payments.

Although recently the fight against mobile phones has become tougher, it still does not give results and in no way justifies the brutal methods of their confiscation. Our publication was not directed against the legal practice of conducting regular searches of cells and removing prohibited items from hiding places, but against their horrifying, cowardly and illegal practice, which is never prosecuted: moreover, it is encouraged.

Convict Mekhak Grigoryan, who raised the issue through, also applied to the Human Rights Office, but they were told to contact the prison’s boss. They say to present it in writing. We can present it in writing, but operative intervention is required. We don’t know what is going on. I also appealed to the boss [of the prison], I say: what is the reason, why are you entering, destroying our cell? He says I’m doing well, that’s how it should be,” Mekhak Grigoryan complains.

We also called the HRD office to find out to what extent the response given to the convict was legitimate and why they are not reacting to the situation quickly and promptly.

The spokesperson of the HRD office replied: “We received a call from the convict on May 5. He informed that during the search conducted in the cell the previous day, the employees of the service damaged his belongings. On the basis of the call, the staff of the Defender conducted a study in connection with the raised issue and we requested clarifications from the competent authorities. At the same time, we suggested that the whistleblower submit a written complaint to the human rights defender.” Then, why did your office say go tell your boss? “I don’t have such information,” replied the spokesperson.

Syuzan Simonyan

Pin It on Pinterest