Administration of Justice in Armenia

Press release
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The administration of justice in Armenia has been of concern for many years and remains a serious issue. Analysis founded on comprehensive monitoring conducted by local human rights defenders indicates that key issues like lack of judicial independence, use of torture and ill-treatment, and poor conditions and overcrowding in penitentiaries remain outstanding and urgent. In late 2010 and 2011 political prisoners incarcerated after events in March 2008 were released. Nevertheless, specific cases of politically motivated persecution continue.

In 2010 the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) together with its member organisation in Armenia, the Civil Society Institute (CSI), and other Armenian NGOs, released a briefing paper outlining serious concerns regarding the functioning of the justice system in the Republic of Armenia. Concerns included violations of the right to a fair trial encompassing also the abuse of pre-trial detention, violations of the presumption of innocence and the rights of the defense, and the use of illegally obtained testimony secured through torture and ill treatment.

These concerns were also at the center of discussions during the 2010 International Forum on Justice organised by FIDH in Armenia, as well as the recommendations transmitted directly to the Armenian President and the Minister of Justice. Two years on, FIDH, CSI and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee have conducted a thorough assessment of recent developments in this field. Sadly, significant improvements are still badly needed to shift the general pattern of human rights breaches in this context. Moreover, the individual cases previously highlighted by our organisations have still not been resolved.

The current briefing highlights these deficiencies in six key areas, namely torture and ill treatment, political prisoners, investigations into March 2008 abuses, judicial independence, juvenile justice and the system for early conditional release. In doing so, it will provide factual examples to illustrate concerns, before making a series of recommendations to the Armenian authorities to remedy this situation.
Our organisations, the International Federation for Human Rights, Civil Society Institute and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee express our deep concern about the issues raised in this briefing. We call upon the authorities to eliminate violations in the administration of justice and ensure the establishment of an independent judiciary and the rule of law. These steps are fundamental to the further democratic development of Armenia.

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