The activity of the Convicts’ Placement
Commission that operates under the auspices of the central body of the Penitentiary
Service of the Ministry of Justice of Armenia causes problems to the convicts,
instead of providing solutions. This situation is unacceptable. In particular,
for several years, complaints having a similar content related to the decisions
of the Commission, and their substantiation and justification have been
addressed to the Human Rights Defender of Armenia. This also refers to the
complaints related to the making of arbitrary and extremely different decisions
to the same situations.
There are legislative and practical problems
related to the activity of the Placement Commission, in particular,
The right to private and family life of the
person is not taken into account while deciding or changing the correctional
facility for the purpose of serving a prison sentence.
The decisions of the Placement Commission are
They are not regulated by the penitentiary
The principles the Placement Commission’s
activity, and the criteria at the basis of the placement procedure, for example,
the priority of placement of a person deprived of their liberty near a close
relative, as an important factor for the re-socialization of the person.
These issues were raised in the 2017, 2018,
and 2019 annual reports of the Human Rights Defender as the National Preventive
Mechanism. They will also be reflected in the 2020 report.
Although the draft law developed by the
Ministry of Justice, envisaging amendments and supplements to the activities of
the Placement Commission, was approved by the decree of the Ministry of Justice
in 2020, the above-mentioned issues were not solved; a fact which is evidenced
by the complaints related to the unfounded, unsubstantiated, and the different
decisions in similar situations of the Placement Commission, addressed to the
Human Rights Defender by persons deprived of liberty in 2020 and 2021.
The Human Rights Defender reaffirms his
position that the current situation is unacceptable; the legislation should
clearly regulate the criteria that are considered when altering the
penitentiary institution, as well as the type of the penitentiary institution,
and according to what criteria the expediency of the degree of isolation is
decided. This should be clear to the convicts, so that they would have the
ability to foresee the consequences of their behavior, on the process of
changing the penitentiary institution.
The shortcomings of the legislative
regulations, as well as the lack of the direct requirement for the substantiation
of Placement Commissions’ decisions, cannot in any way justify the absolute
discretion of the Commission, and exclude its accountability. This increases
the risks of human rights violations, and arbitrariness.
It should be recalled that the Placement
Commission is discussing the issues related to the process of determining the
type of the penitentiary institution where the convict will serve their sentence,
as prescribed by law, as well as altering the type of the penitentiary