Hasmik Harutyunyan, the legal expert of the “Protection of Rights without Borders” NGO participated in the fourth release of the “Banadzev Club” broadcasted in Armenia TV on November 6 of 2017.
Hasmik Harutyunyan, who is also a member of the Public Monitoring Group Conducting Oversight over the Penitentiary Institutions and Bodies of the RA Ministry of Justice, touched upon the issues regarding the current situation, healthcare conditions, sanitary and hygiene conditions, probation service and other problems in the penitentiary institutions of the Republic of Armenia.
As stated by H. Harutyunyan, almost the same situation of the penitentiary conditions is recorded every year and mostly with negative outcomes than positive ones. “We have 12 penitentiary institutions with about 4000 detainees. Out of 12 penitentiary institutions, “Armavir” penitentiary has more or less good conditions, which is conditioned by the new building conditions. The cell, sanitary and hygienic conditions in the institutions can be evaluated as positive, but this institution has other problems” – mentioned Harutyunyan.
As mentioned by Hrutyunyan, in the outcomes of the monitoring conducted by the public monitoring group, cases of inhumane, degrading condition were also recorded in “Nubarashen” penitentiary institution. “Cases of overpopulation of cells were recorded in the penitentiary for example one cell which is for 10-12 person, up to 15 person stay in one cell, which leads to the sleeping by turn in the same cells”.
Harutyunyan talked also about the healthcare provision, monitoring, that a number of projects were conducted in the sphere during the last three year, particularly with the financial support of the Council of Europe, within the scope of which the staffs of a number of penitentiary institutions were trained and the penitentiary institutions were equipped with medical technologies. But, from the point of the needs of the detainees, great movement was not recorded. “There are certain medications, which the detainees need, but the penitentiaries do not provide the concrete medications and these medications are bought by the means of the detainees”.
Harutyunyan expressed her concerns over the building conditions of “Goris” penitentiary institutions, as well as over other problems raised within the visit of the monitoring group.
“In case of calls and plan visits, the public monitoring group can monitor at any given moment all the institutions, meet the detainees and monitor the building conditions. But, there is a problem in this regard in case of “Goris” penitentiary institution, which is conditioned by the fact of location. “Goris” penitentiary institution has history of almost 2 century: the building is very old, the conditions are inhumane”.Harutyunyan, considers the integration of the detainee to society after the detention as a concerning problem. “We constantly say, that the detainee should return to society after the detention, but it should also be mentioned, that from the very day of the detained, no work is being carried out with detainee. The planning of the detention, which should include the characteristic features of the concrete person, the psychological, social work are not carried out in Armenia, unfortunately”- mentioned Harutyunyan.
Harutyunyan particularly highlighted the establishment of the “Probation” system in Armenia, which is based on the restorative justice. According to Harutyunyna, it takes 10-20 years to establish probation system in European countries for the positive impact of the concept.
The problem is different for Armenia: “we took a concept, put its name on another institute and we want to get the positive impact of the latter. Previously, we had a department of alternative punishments, which was renamed to “Probation” service. The same staff works, but, if there is no way of working or concrete approach, that a problem, since the approach of the probation system is completely different: we should move from punitive policy to restorative policy” – added Hasmik Harutyunyan.