ArmInfo. The US Department of State has published a 2018 human rights report. In the section related to Armenia, the State Department, in particular, emphasizes that the parliamentary elections were held with respect for fundamental freedoms and enjoyed broad public trust that should be preserved through further election reforms. According to the document, civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
Human rights issues included torture; harsh and life threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; police violence against journalists; physical interference by security forces with freedom of assembly; restrictions on political participation; systemic government corruption; crimes involving violence or threats thereof targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; inhuman and degrading treatment of persons with disabilities in institutions, including children; and worst forms of child labor. The authors of the document the new government took steps to investigate and punish abuse, especially at high levels of government and law enforcement. Pashinyan's government gave new impetus to accountability for the events surrounding the aftermath of the 2008 presidential election, in which eight civilians and two police officers were killed.
At the same time, the State Department notes that there were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) expressed concerns that the government did not promptly and accurately report incidents of deaths in the army. According to independent (and separate) monitoring of noncombat deaths by the NGOs Peace Dialogue and Helsinki Citizens Assembly Vanadzor, there were 24 noncombat deaths reported during the first half of the year. In response to information requested by the NGO Peace Dialogue, the Ministry of Defense reported 31 such incidents for the same period. Human rights NGOs noted that, after years of rejection, the Ministry of Defense became more open following the May change in government in responding to requests for information on the number of deaths in the army. Nevertheless, discrepancies in the government and NGO numbers, partly due to different classification of what constituted military deaths by the Ministry of Defense and civil society,
On May 24, Prime Minister Pashinyan dismissed the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Movses Hakobyan. Many of the families of soldiers who died under noncombat conditions, who continued to demand investigation of the deaths, alleged that Hakobyan was instrumental in covering up such deaths. According to media reports, law enforcement bodies reopened investigations into some of the older noncombat death cases.
The document also stresses that there were no convictions to officials who were involved in the practice of torture, unlawful arrests and drives. According to observers, the police used arrest as a form of punishment, ill-treatment to obtain evidence.
The report notes that prison conditions were marked by poor sanitation, inadequate medical care, and systemic corruption; overcrowding was no longer a problem at the prison level, and was almost resolved at the cell level, but conditions in some cases were harsh and life threatening. Prisons generally lacked accommodations for inmates with disabilities. The government generally permitted domestic and international human rights groups, including the CPT, to monitor prison and detention center conditions, and they did so regularly.
However, as stated in the report, the government allocated funds for the repair of penitentiary facilities, allowed prisoners to make video calls, prisoners were trained in English, computer literacy, cooking, crocheting and felting, yoga, hairdressing, career planning and entrepreneurship. The Department of State has listed the amendments to the Penal Code, the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure as positive changes.
Authorities did not routinely conduct credible investigations nor take action in a meaningful manner to address problems involving the mistreatment of prisoners, disputes and violence between inmates, or widespread corruption>, the report reads.
According to international organizations and human rights observers, police and NSS personnel often detained or arrested individuals without a warrant or probable cause. Human rights organizations stated such detentions were often a way to begin an investigation, with authorities hoping the suspect would confess and make further investigation unnecessary. Between April 16 and April 23, the police detained 1,236 persons, including 121 minors, in connection with the "velvet revolution." In many cases, individuals were detained simply for being at a certain location, regardless of whether they participated in a protest.
The State Department mentions in its report that although the law provides for an independent judiciary, the judiciary did not generally exhibit independence and impartiality. t"Attorneys reported that in the past, the Court of Cassation dictated the outcome of all significant cases to lower-court judges. According to observers, administrative courts had relatively more internal independence but were understaffed, with some hearings scheduled as far ahead as 2020.The authorities generally complied with court orders. Non- governmental organizations report that judges usually ignored statements by defendants that their testimony was obtained through physical violence. For example, human rights monitors continued to report when evidence was received", the report says.
According to the report, following the post "velvet revolution" release of certain individuals considered by some local human rights NGOs to be political detainees, there were no reports of political prisoners or detainees in the country. Following the "velvet revolution," many judges released from pretrial detention many suspects in politically sensitive cases. According to human rights groups, since no other circumstances had changed in their cases, this was an indication that, before the April/May events, judicial decisions to hold those suspects in detention, instead of on bail were politically motivated.