Training programme for psychologists involved in criminal proceedings kicks off with participation of minors


On 2 November, the programme "Building child-sensitive and gender-sensitive capacities and developing support services for child victims and witnesses" was launched with the participation of First Deputy Minister of Justice Kristinne Grigoryan.

The programme is carried out through close co-operation with the Ministry of Justice, the United Nations Children's Fund in Armenia and the Office of the United Nations Population Fund in Armenia.

In her welcoming speech, the Deputy Minister stated that the launch of this influential programme attests to the harmonious co-operation between the Ministry of Justice and its international partners.

Kristinne Grigoryan underlined that the introduction of the institution of involving a qualified psychologist is an important step in the process of establishing a child-centred system of justice and expressed confidence that the programme will succeed thanks to the practice of supporting international organisations and the efforts made by the Ministry.

Deputy Minister Grigoryan underlined the institutionalisation of capacities as an important point of the programme, as a result of further dissemination of knowledge gained by psychologists in training.

Summing up, the Deputy Minister once again expressed her gratitude to the international partners and the staff of the "Legal Education and Rehabilitation Programme Implementation Centre" SNCO for the dedicated work.

In her turn, representative of United Nations Children's Fund Armenia (UNICEF) Christine Weigand expressed gratitude to the partners for the invitation to participate in the launch of the programme and noted that, as is known in international practice, minors who are victims of crime or are witnesses often become twice-victimised in the justice systems, and those systems are generally not tailored to the needs of minors. In this context, Weigand highly appreciated the lasting cooperation between the Ministry of Justice and the Council for Juvenile Justice which is aimed at strengthening protection of the best interest of the child.

In her speech, Christine Weigand also touched upon the recent amendments made to the Criminal Procedure Code, which lay down the participation of psychologists in the interrogation of children, viewing it as an important step on the part of Armenia for implementation of the UN guidelines for jurisdiction related to child victims of crime or child witnesses.

The above-mentioned UN guidelines call for laying down the involvement of trained specialists and the approaches to interrogation and assessment which will reduce the damage caused to a child to a minimum and will ensure the maximum quality of information obtained from the child.

Summing up, Christine Weigand congratulated the Ministry of Justice and the Council for Juvenile Justice on the launch of the programme being jointly implemented and expressed the commitment of the UNICEF to inform about further co-operation in order to enhance the best interest of the child.

In her turn, Head of UN Population Fund Armenia Tsovinar Harutyunyan also expressed satisfaction with the long-term and close co-operation with the Ministry of Justice, stating that implementation of this programme will help to create additional guarantees for protection of persons, subjected to domestic violence from double victimisation.

Afterwards, Head of the Department of Criminal Legislation, Penitentiary and Probation Policy Development of the Ministry of Justice Arpine Sargsyan presented to the participants the legislative reforms for involving a psychologist in the process of criminal proceedings; coordinator of the Access to Justice Project of the United Nations Children's Fund in Armenia Hayk Khemchyan presented the main directions for protecting minors from double victimisation, and Director of the "Legal Education and Rehabilitation Programmes Implementation Centre" SNCO Artak Ghulyan gave a brief description of the training course for psychologists involved in the investigative actions under cases involving a minor, a person having no active legal capacity or a person with a mental health problem, as well as cases of domestic violence.