According to the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention Against Torture, it is envisaged to create an independent national preventive mechanism that should have a broad mandate, possibility of free access and examination of all the places where people may be deprived of their liberty.
After ratification of the Optional Protocol, the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia (RA) is designated as an independent national prevention mechanism.
The Defender's activities as the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) are aimed at preventing torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in places of deprivation of liberty (Article 27 of the RA Constitutional Law on the Human Rights Defender).
The Human Rights Defender as the NPM is entitled to:
- make regular, as well as ad hoc visits places of detention to prevent ill-treatment and is not obliged to inform the institution in advance on the time or purpose of the visits;
- visit persons deprived of their liberty and to have private interviews with them;
- no one has the power to surveillance or interferes with these interviews;
- engage an interpreter if deemed necessary and use technical equipment;
- make recommendations to the relevant authorities and organizations to prevent ill-treatment and improve the detention conditions of persons in any place of deprivation of liberty;
- to receive information and clarifications referring to the treatment, as well as detention conditions of persons in the place of deprivation of liberty, as well as any other issue necessary for the exercise of his or her powers;
- to get acquainted with all the documents necessary for the exercise of his or her powers, receive their copies;
- submit recommendations on legal acts or their drafts to the competent authorities;
- exercise other powers prescribed by the law.
The Department for Prevention of Torture and Ill-Treatment operates as a separate subdivision at the Office of the Human Rights Defender to ensure the implementation of the functions of the NPM, as well as carries out the Defender’s functions by the Defender’s written order.
Independent specialists, such as independent experts in the field of science and/or representatives of NGOs who have the status of National Preventive Mechanism expert (psychologist, sociologist, physicians, including a psychiatrist) are engaged in the activities of the national preventive mechanism. The rules of working procedure and codes of conduct of the NPM experts are approved by the order of the Human Rights Defender.