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Artak Zeynalyan participates in discussion on human rights protection in the armed forces

26/03/2019

Today, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Armenia Artak Zeynalyan participated in the concluding event of the "Strengthening the Application of European Human Rights Standards in the Armed Forces in Armenia" project.

The Minister noted that he has both theoretical and practical knowledge about the project, as there was a time when he served as a lecturer within the scope of the project. "In the course of the lectures, we recorded serious results, and I felt that the officers and the military servicemen had the innate ability to perceive the natural rights of a human being," Artak Zeynalyan said.

Touching upon the project goals, the Minister noted that even though there were many challenges on the path to accomplishment of those goals, those challenges were overcome through joint efforts. Nevertheless, according to Artak Zeynalyan, there is a lot of work to do in this field, and there is still a long way to go to achieve the desired outcomes.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and about the policy aimed at preventing, detecting and reporting ill-treatment in the armed forces and raising the level of efficiency of investigations of ill-treatment in the armed forces, the Minister stated that large-scale legislative amendments have been made since 2015 and that those amendments were due to the importance of ensuring compliance with the 1984 UN Convention, as well as to the requirement to execute ECHR judgments. In regard to the execution of ECHR judgments, Minister Zeynalyan noted that he had been involved in this as well, as he was a representative in these cases in the ECHR while acting as an advocate and later, as co-author of legislative initiatives and draft laws.

Listing the reforms implemented in the course of legislative amendments, Artak Zeynalyan attached importance to the provision of an opportunity for a defence council to visit the arrested or detained person and the provision of an opportunity for a lawyer to visit the arrested or detained person for the purpose of assuming his or her defence also on non-working days or hours and the planning for fair and proportionate compensation to the victims of tortures for damages inflicted by the acts of tortures, including provision for the institution of rehabilitation. In this regard, the Minister emphasised that the Constitutional Court has recognised as anti-constitutional and invalid a number of provisions of the Civil Code that did not envisage compensation for moral damage. "I initiated these strategic proceedings in 2003, and only in January of this year was it possible to turn receipt of moral damage by the client into a reality," Artak Zeynalyan noted, considering the provision of clear procedural guarantees for persons actually deprived of liberty, regulation for not granting pardon to a person convicted for torture, etc. as other major changes. They were positively assessed by the UN Committee Against Torture, welcomed by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, when assessing the course of execution of the "Virabyan v. Armenia" and "Ashot Harutyunyan v. Armenia" group cases.

The Minister also informed that activities for development of the National Strategy for the Protection of Human Rights and the 2020-2022 Action Plan arising from it have been launched. The Plan will be harmonised with the priorities of the 2019-2022 Action Plan developed by the Council of Europe for Armenia. "With the view to making this process more participatory, we are closely co-operating with representatives of all the interested state bodies and non-governmental organisations,” Artak Zeynalyan noted.

Expressing his gratitude to the Government of the United Kingdom for funding the project and to the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan for proper implementation of the project, the Minister expressed hope that the Council of Europe would continue to consistently assist the Republic of Armenia in strengthening human rights protection in the armed forces.

Human Rights Director of the Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe Christophe Poirel, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan Natalia Vutova, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Armenia Judith Margaret Farnworth, Human Rights Defender of Armenia Arman Tatoyan, Deputy Minister of Defence Gabriyel Balayan, Authorised Representative of the Government of the Republic of Armenia before the ECHtR Yeghishe Kirakosyan and others also participated in the event.

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