Artak Zeynalyan: "Detention must be the exception and not the rule"


Today, Minister of Justice Artak Zeynalyan participated at the Investigative Committee in the presentation of the Guide on legal provisions interpreted by the legal positions expressed by the ECHtR, and the Court of Cassation of the Republic of Armenia in 2007-2017.

The Guide was drawn up by Hayk Grigoryan, Chairperson of the Investigative Committee, PhD in Law, Gevorg Kostanyan, Doctor of Law and Anush Gasparyan, Chief Specialist at the Division of Legal Support and Statistics of the Department of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Armenia.

The Minister congratulated the authors on the presentation of the manual and noted that the formula "presumption of liberty of a person does not need to be proven" is the axis of discussion of the issue regarding detention of a person. According to Artak Zeynalyan, it has been stipulated through consistent case-law for years both in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and that of the Cassation Court. "The law of high courts has created necessary and sufficient prerequisites for reasonable and balanced application of the institution of detention. Unfortunately, in practice, it’s just the opposite," - Minister Zeynalyan noted, adding that although the statistical data published by the Prosecutor General's Office shows that, compared with 2017, about 4.9% reduction of motions for imposing detention as a measure of restraint was recorded, when the number of the accused increased by about 9.7%, which is also proven by the Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics; however, there are still a lot to do.

Artak Zeynalyan attached importance to the elaboration of such guides, highly appreciated the large-scale work having been carried out and expressed hope that it would replenish the professional library of investigators, prosecutors and judges, as well as advocates, human rights defenders, journalists; moreover, it would serve its goal and become a guide in the course of discussing the issue of detention and taking a decision thereon.

"Detention does not contain elements of punishment; it's a means of ensuring proper conduct. However, according to the severity of its execution, detention does not cede to the types of punishment being imposed in the form of deprivation of liberty; thus, attaching importance to ensuring guaranteed rights of detained persons, the Ministry of Justice has successively carried out and continues to carry out reforms,"- the Minister emphasised and presented some of them.

●      4 medical centres in Yerevan and 3 in marzes will have special units envisaged for detainees.

●      With a view to ensuring the exercise of the right of visit of detained persons not having an opportunity to have a short visit with their next of kin, as well as those being foreign citizens, detained persons, instead of a short visit, were granted an opportunity to have a video call for up to 20 minutes twice a month.

●      The draft Law of the Republic of Armenia "On making amendments and supplements to the Law of the Republic of Armenia "On treatment of arrestees and detainees" was submitted to the Standing Committee on State and Legal Affairs for discussion, according to which only with the right of co-habitation with the next of kin, long-term visit with a duration of up to three days will be granted at least once every two months. The same draft prescribes that a long-term visit will also be granted to the person, who is not in a marriage with a detained person, but has a common child therewith. At the request of the detained person, a long-term visit may be replaced with a short-term visit.



●      As a result of effective co-operation with the Human Rights Defender, the practice of prohibiting — by the body conducting criminal proceedings without a good reason (or arbitrarily) — detained persons to have a visit with a next of kin and a legal representative will be ruled out.

●      Detained citizens of the Republic of Armenia will have the right to receive a temporary certificate while being held in detention facilities, which will allow them to exercise their right to participate in civil law transactions".

According to the Minister, apart from the mentioned reforms, the Ministry of Justice attaches importance to the adoption of the new Criminal Procedure Code, where other measures of restraint alternative to detention, including also application of electronic monitoring devices, are stipulated. "The efforts of all of us are aimed at applying detention really in exceptional cases, when it is impossible to ensure by other means the proper conduct of a person in the course of criminal proceedings," — Artak Zeynalyan said and added that we must start to bring the requirement stipulated by the case-law of the European Court into life that detention must be the exception and not the rule".