Discussion on “Transferring the Authority of the Special Investigation Service to Conduct Torture Investigation to the Investigative Committee”

On July 8 of 2019 a discussion on the topic “Transferring the Authority of the Special Investigation Service to Conduct Torture Investigation to the Investigative Committee” was organized in the “Media Center” Initiative, during which the issue of transferring the authority of the Special Investigation Service to conduct torture investigation to the Investigative Committee in a line with the relevant change prescribed by the RA Government draft anti-corruption program.

Haykuhi Harutyunyan, human rights defender and the President of the Protection of Rights without Borders NGO is against the changes prescribed by the draft program: “The proposed draft program facts about the gaps of the implementation of the post revolution ideas”.

According to Haykuhi Harutyunyan, the Ministry of Justice and the authors of the draft program simply ignore their heritage and do not want to accept the professional observations which have been presented regarding the activities of the Special Investigation Service and the Investigative Committee as well, which can be considered as a ground for reforms.

The Special Investigation Service was established in 2007 and started the implementation of its functions since 2008 with the mission to ensure the detection of the crimes by the state high-ranking official and the crimes made in regard to the state officials respectively.

According to H. Harutyunyan, the latter was made not by the will of the former authorities, but was a mere result of the observations presented by a number of international agencies in regard to Armenia. The establishment of the Special Investigation Service was presented as a priority and a supportive measure to the reforms in the institutional level in Progress Evaluation Reports of the Eastern Partnership, report presented by the Torture Prevention Committee

In the ground of the justice system reforms, that time was the human rights protection. Here the tortures were targeted as an important sector due to the fact, that the majority of the cases related to the right to refrain form tortures were recognized by the European Court of Human Rights, rather the domestic institutions could make investigations in that regard.

The decision of the ECHR were not related exclusively to the deeds, but rather to the procedure of the cases and its efficiency.

“The problems related to the placement of the Special Investigation Service in the building of the Prosecutor General’s Office raised in the different report were considered as a possible influence on the independence of the mentioned institution by the Torture Prevention Committee and other international agencies. The latter is a very small component, but is very important from the perspective of institutional independence. To solve the mentioned problem, the Special Investigation Service Institution was moved to a separated specialized building not to be considered as a lack of efficiency and independence” – mentioned H. Harutyunyan.

As state by Harutyunyan, the Special Investigation Service had a small progress in terms of its content activity. It was clearly pointed out in the report on the Republic of Armenia by the Torture Prevention Committee of 2015, that it is already a positive step to have the Special Investigation Service as an instituted, which deals with the protection of the right to refrain from torture, nevertheless, the existence of the institution with the current composition and the procedural guarantees is still far from satisfying the full protection of the violation of the mentioned right.

A comprehensive evaluation report conducted in the Republic of Armenia was published by the TAIEX center, which covers the whole justice system, including the activities of the Special Investigation Service. It was clearly pointed out in the report, that from the perspective of the human resources, the Special Investigation Service resources are not sufficient to conduct an effective examination within its activity scope. From the institutional perspective, the mentioned institution does not receive the complaint application directly related to the examination of ill treatment. The forwarding system of the application is so incomplete, that the Special Investigation Service receives the applications outdated and the demand for the urgent examination becomes meaningless. The Special Investigation Service does not have a legislative authority to conduct operative activities and forwards the latter to the institutions, which are related to their activities.

According to Haykuhi Harutyunyan, currently we have a zero efficiency related to the prevention of the tortures and based on the comprehensive evaluations and recommendations, there is a need for reforms in this regard. «We are witnessing, that the human rights are generally omitted, since the current authorities exclusively highlights the corruption. For sure, no one tries to shadow or humiliate the fight against corruption, but it is unacceptable that the fight against corruption shall be carried out for the human rights protection. Today, we eventually destroy the respect towards human rights the accountability institute of the state, in the expectation of the fight against corruption, without the preliminar efficiency evaluation, we are trying to establish a body which already has a great amount of concern related to its activity».

«The most important link to the human rights protection is now being neutrilized without any ground justification and the Committee is being vested with authorirties, where there are more problems than in the Special Investigation Service» – concluded Haykuhi Harutyunyan.