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Representatives of Ministry of Justice and Human Rights Defender discuss issues related to penitentiary sector

27/12/2018

On 26 December, a discussion on several issues related to penitentiary institutions was held with the participation of representatives of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia and the Staff of the Human Rights Defender.

Among the participants of the meeting were Head of the Department for Human Rights Protection in the Criminal Justice Sector and Armed Forces of the Staff of the Human Rights Defender Artyom Sedrakyan, Co-ordinator for Implementation of the National Prevention Mechanism and Head of the Department for Prevention of Ill-Treatment of the Human Rights Defender Gohar Simonyan, Head of the Department for Development of Anti-Corruption and Penitentiary Policies of the Ministry of Justice Karen Hakobyan, Deputy Head of the Department Shushanik Ghukasyan, employee of the Department Arpine Sargsyan and other representatives of the Staff of the Human Rights Defender and the Ministry of Justice.

The Special Report of the Human Rights Defender "On ensuring the rights of women and juveniles deprived of liberty in the penitentiary system", as well as the statements of information on the monitoring visits paid by the National Prevention Mechanism of the Staff of the Human Rights Defender to "Hrazdan" Penitentiary Institution of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia on 10 September 2018 and to "Nubarashen" Penitentiary Institution of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia on 15 October 2018 were discussed during the meeting.

The participants of the session attached importance to the joint activities, viewing them as effective and professional.

Suren Krmoyan presented the reforms made at penitentiary institutions, touched upon the issues raised in the reports and statements of information of the Human Rights Defender and indicated by the Ministry of Justice and proposed short-term and long-term mechanisms for the solution to those issues.

The current issues on food, medical services, employment and education at penitentiary institutions, as well as the social security of the employees of penitentiary institutions and the terms for proper organisation of the work of those employees were particularly touched upon during the discussion. In this context, issues on accepting and taking drugs and psychological problems were discussed.

Let us mention that, besides the fact that convicts are entitled to use the skype system to the extent prescribed by law, currently, the Ministry of Justice and the Staff of the Human Rights Defender envisage improving the conditions for contact with the outside world with greater efforts. The fact that all instructions for contacting employees of the hot-line of the Human Rights Defender are indicated next to pay phones at penitentiary institutions was mentioned as an example.

During the discussion, the representatives of both authorities attached importance to issues related to the education of juveniles and young people at penitentiary institutions. What was also underlined was the fact that, on 21 March 2018, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia granted a licence for activities through secondary general education programmes and online teaching to the "Legal Education and Rehabilitation Programmes Implementation Centre" SNCO of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia. After receiving relevant funding from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia, the SNCO will organise general education in the prescribed manner.

The legislative proposals clearly presented in the reports and statements of information of the Human Rights Defender were considered during the meeting. For instance, specification of the legal grounds for keeping a person deprived of liberty isolated was discussed, and it was decided to propose solutions through joint efforts.

During the meeting, an agreement was reached, according to which, in regard to the issues discussed, the Ministry of Justice will develop a complex programme for solution to the problems in the penitentiary system that have been recorded by the Human Rights Defender.

The major result of the meeting was that the parties agreed that the risks and demands during punishment of persons at penitentiary institutions would be identified and a series of actions for individual planing for punishment and the re-socialisation and re-integration of convicted persons would be implemented through the efforts of the Ministry of Justice and the Staff of the Human Rights Defender, the goal of which is to shape a new culture for correcting convicts within the penitentiary system and for the capacities of the re-socialisation system and the re-socialisation of convicts.

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