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 Friday, February 28 2014

US Department of State: Members of Armenia's security forces continued to employ torture and inhuman treatment regularly

US Department of State: Members of Armenia

 While the law prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, reports indicated that members of the Armenian security forces continued to employ them regularly, says the 2013 Country Report on Human Rights Practices published by the US Department of State on Feb 27.   


"Witnesses reported that police beat citizens while arresting and interrogating them. Human rights NGOs made similar allegations but noted most cases of police mistreatment were unreported due to fear of retaliation. Most abuses reportedly took place in police stations, because they were not subject to public monitoring, rather than prisons and police detention facilities, which were. According to NGOs many individuals that authorities transferred to prisons from police facilities alleged that police tortured, abused, and intimidated them while they were in police custody, mainly to extort confessions", the Report says.


"On March 13, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) presented findings of a study by a number of domestic and international bodies on the mistreatment and torture of juveniles in the juvenile justice system, from their initial apprehension through the completion of sentences. Interviews with 86 juveniles revealed that the most common forms of mistreatment were beating and physical pressure exerted by the police to extract confessions. Eight of the children attested that they had personally experienced violence, and 51 percent of those surveyed heard of the mistreatment of other children, including beating, sexual violence, cursing, intimidation, and threats. According to the report, the children were reluctant to report mistreatment because they feared retaliation and did not trust the system. Most victims considered the risks involved in making a complaint--exposing themselves to punishment and retaliation--far outweighed the possibility that the perpetrator would be punished", the Report says.


The annual report of the human rights defender (the ombudsman's office) for 2012, released in March, also stated that police investigative bodies continued to subject individuals to cruel, inhuman, and humiliating treatment in order to obtain confessions.


The Report points out that on March 14, the country's police chief appointed Ashot Karapetyan as the new police chief of Yerevan. Shortly after the appointment, Grisha Virabyan, who successfully argued in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that Yerevan police tortured him in 2004, announced that one of his torturers, identified during the ECHR proceedings as A.K., was Karapetyan, who at the time was deputy head of the Ararat regional division of the police.


Authorities defended the appointment; as of year's end, no one faced charges for Virabyan's mistreatment. Human rights observers and media criticized the Karapetyan appointment, noting that it reinforced widely held beliefs concerning the lack of accountability for human rights abuses by police.


"Within the armed forces, substandard living conditions, corruption, and lack of accountability of commanders continued to contribute to mistreatment and noncombat injuries. Although no reliable statistics on the prevalence of military hazing were available, soldiers reported to human rights organizations that abuses continued. Soldiers' families claimed that corrupt officials controlled military units, and human rights monitors and the ombudsman reported the government continued to conscript soldiers with serious health conditions that should have disqualified them from service", says the Report.

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