A Discussion on the Topic “Strengths and Weaknesses of the Police Reforms for 2020-2022”

On February 2 of 2020, Araks Melkonyan, the President of the “Protection of Rights without Borders” NGO, participated in the discussion on “Strengths and Weaknesses of the Police Reforms for 2020-2022” as a speaker.

Araks Melkonyan evaluated the measures directed towards the subjecting the Police to parliamentary oversights as positive, at the same time, she prioritized the necessity to ensure the institutional oversight of the civil society: such practice is prescribed in other ministries, for example the Public Monitors’ Group Conducting Monitoring in the RA Ministry of Justice penitentiary institutions. The implementation of the independent and professional oversight activities by a body consisted of the representatives from civil society shall be ensured towards the police activities or towards a part of it.

While referring to the establishment of the criminal police and vesting the latter with the authority to conduct preliminary investigation, Araks Melkonyan highlighted that it is essential to understand the role of the Police in the whole system of the criminal justice. Establishment of criminal police is envisaged by the strategy, but the issues of its jurisdiction, its role in the criminal justice system are still problematic and vague. Our expectations from the Police should be observed in the context of criminal justice vision.

As recorded by A. Melkonyan, the investigative activities shall not be repeated in different circles: “Investigative bodies are established by the judicial reform strategies and anti-corruption strategies respectively, which will have a block conducting operative-investigative activities. That is, the same authorities will be vested to the Special Investigative Service, Anti-Corruption Committee. Factually, only the Investigative Committee does not have an authority to conduct operative-investigative activities”.

While referring to the transformation of the police troops, Araks Melkonyan highlighted, that a legislative and political assessment shall be given to the previous activities of the police, including not only to the police troops, but also to all the forces engaged in the process of violating the citizens’ rights during the peaceful assemblies, as well as dispersing the peaceful assemblies, the patrol service, operative servants, investigators, who were also becoming a part of illegalities. Issuing of a legal evaluation is essential not only from the perspective of the victims, since, currently the examination by a number of criminal cases is not in process. We have the cases related to Electric Yerevan of 2015, the July events of 2016, Arpil events of 2018: the latter were suspended for about three times and reopened. These are very essential issues from the perspective of police reforms. There are about 300 victims by the given cases, people are waiting for the exercise of the justice”.

The Organization presented recommendations to include the violations of the peaceful assemblies within the scope of the transitional justice, which were not respectively included in the documents without any clarification.

Melkonyan made a reference to the issue of including the financial monitoring center of the RA Central Bank in the composition of the newly opening Ministry of Internal Affairs, as prescribed by the presented strategy. As assessed by Araks Melkonya, the existing model by the strategy is available also in the major European countries. The applied model has a higher level of protection mechanism that is banking secrecy, protection of personal data, as well as the latter ensures higher level of independence and professionalism. If we have a problem of quick response, implementation of effective examination, maintenance of deadlines, the only advantage of the financial monitoring center is the quick response function.

As stated by Araks Melkomyan, the financial monitoring center of the RA Central Bank is not necessary to include in the composition of the newly opening Ministry of Internal Affairs: the center shall be vested with a larger scope of authorities, including with legislative data base and with more quick response authorities.