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Minister of Justice and U.S. Ambassador visit "Abovyan" Penitentiary Institution

24/08/2018

On 23 August, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Armenia Artak Zeynalyan and U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Armenia Richard Mills visited "Abovyan" Penitentiary Institution, got acquainted with the conditions of confinement of female convicts and the results of a number of vocational education and rehabilitation projects implemented at the Penitentiary Institution with U.S. support.

The Minister and Ambassador, accompanied by Head of the Penitentiary Department of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia Artyom Mkhoyan and Head of "Abovyan" Penitentiary Institution Gayane Vardanyan, toured the premises, visited the delivery reception point, the cafeteria, the computer room, the gym, the hairdressing room, the medical station and the exhibition of handicraft items of the convicts.

Minister Zeynalyan and Ambassador Mills were also introduced to the video call system, which is being tested through piloting at "Abovyan" Penitentiary Institution with the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross and which people lacking the opportunity for short visits with close relatives, as well as convicts who are foreign nationals, benefit from twice a month and for up to 20 minutes.

Minister of Justice Artak Zeynalyan attached importance to the implementation of activities aimed at improving the conditions of confinement and ensuring employment and, in this context, highly appreciated the projects being implemented to solve the problems specified by international partners and non-governmental organisations operating in the field. The Minister emphasised that the state policy for persons with problems with the law had changed, that is, there is going to be a shift from the punishment system to a system of restorative justice. "The conditions of penitentiary institutions of Armenia are far from our notions, but the Government is determined to improve the conditions and guarantee protection of the rights of persons being kept at penitentiary institutions," Minister Zeynalyan mentioned.

According to U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills, maintenance of the mental and physical health of convicts is of major importance for facilitating their future reintegration into the society, and the vocational education and rehabilitation projects being implemented at "Abovyan" Penitentiary Institution are excellent examples that may also be applied at other penitentiary institutions of Armenia. "I am glad to see the successful results of co-operation between our two countries in the area of penitentiary reforms. New approaches have already been introduced following the recent educational-cognitive visit of the employees of the Penitentiary Service of Armenia to the U.S.," the Ambassador said.

During the visit to "Abovyan" Penitentiary Institution, the Minister of Justice and Ambassador Mills also visited the sewing factory of the "Support to Convicts" Foundation of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia, as well as the solar water heater unit constructed within the scope of energy-saving projects.

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