Back Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Armenia

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its periodic visit to Armenia in May 2010, together with the response of the Armenian Government. These documents have been made public at the request of the Armenian authorities.
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During the visit, the CPT's delegation heard a significant number of allegations of police ill-treatment. In its report, the Committee recommends that a firm message of “zero tolerance” of ill-treatment be delivered to all police officers. Further, training on advanced crime investigation methods should be developed and safeguards against ill-treatment (such as the rights of notification of custody, of access to a lawyer and of access to a doctor) reinforced. The Committee has also recommended that increased emphasis be placed on the structural independence of the Special Investigation Service (SIS).

In the prison field, the overwhelming majority of prisoners indicated that they were being treated in a correct manner by prison staff. However, the delegation heard a few allegations of physical ill-treatment by staff at Nubarashen Prison. The delegation’s observations during the visit shed light on several key areas of concern, in particular: prison overcrowding, impoverished programmes of activities for prisoners, allegations of corrupt practices by prison staff and public officials associated with the prison system, and the reliance on an informal prison hierarchy to maintain good order in penitentiary establishments. Further, the situation of life-sentenced prisoners remained unsatisfactory. The report contains a series of specific recommendations aimed at remedying these problems.

As regards psychiatric and social care institutions, the CPT has noted that new regulations on the use of means of restraint have been adopted by the Ministry of Health. That said, almost no improvements were observed with respect to the provision of psychiatric care and the implementation of legal safeguards for involuntary hospitalisation of civil psychiatric patients; several previous recommendations have had to be reiterated. Further, the Committee has made a number of recommendations to improve living conditions in the various institutions visited.

In their response, the Armenian authorities provide information on steps taken or envisaged to implement the CPT’s recommendations. Particular reference is made to police and criminal procedure reforms, improved police training and action taken against police officers in case of professional misconduct. The Armenian authorities also inform the Committee of urgent measures being taken to combat prison overcrowding, including by placing increased emphasis on alternatives to imprisonment and by making early release mechanisms more efficient. Further, the building of new prisons, within the framework of a recent “prison infrastructure reform programme”, is expected to decrease overcrowding, improve conditions of detention of various categories of inmate and reduce the risks of inter-prisoner intimidation. The Armenian authorities also provide information on measures taken to improve living conditions in the psychiatric and social care institutions visited.

The CPT's report and the response of the Armenian Government are available in English (and in Armenian for the response) on the Committee's website: