In the period between September 19 and 22, the rapid response
groups of the Human Rights Defender's Office visited Police Departments,
detention facilities for the arrestees in Yerevan, as well as the Investigative
Committee of the Republic of Armenia. The representatives of the Defender
visited the injured persons, including police officers, in various medical
During the mentioned period, the representatives of the Defender
held private conversations with more than 150 persons deprived of liberty in
the above-mentioned institutions: the grounds for their arrest, the state of
ensuring their rights were reviewed, and the persons deprived of liberty were
informed of their rights.
With the support of the Defender, in a number of cases, the
access of lawyers to various Police Departments and investigative bodies was
secured to conduct the defense of individuals, and as needed, the exercise of
the right to medical assistance of persons deprived of liberty was guaranteed.
The Defender emphasizes that the fundamental right to freedom of
assembly pertains to peaceful assemblies. Guaranteeing the peaceful nature of
assemblies is the responsibility of the state. At the same time, it is crucial
that the participants of an assembly ensure its peaceful course, exercise
restraint, as well as comply with the requirements defined by law.
As a result of rapid response visits, as well as the examination
of received complaints and monitoring of media publications, the Office of the
Human Rights Defender recorded cases of apparently excessive use of force by
police officers against the participants of the protests. The Defender will address
letters to the competent state authorities in relation to the mentioned cases,
with a request to conduct a proper and comprehensive investigation.
The Defender underlines that the use of physical force or
special measures by competent authorities should only occur when legally
justified, strictly proportional to the specific situation; any other practice
is reprehensible and inadmissible.
In some cases, the police officers did not present any legal
demands to the protesters, while the latter were arrested on the basis of not
fulfilling the legal demands of the police officers.
In addition, the systemic issue of ensuring the minimum rights
of persons subjected to administrative arrest remains unresolved.
Thus, in some cases, when depriving the persons of their
liberty, they are not informed, in a language which they understand, of the
grounds and reasons for the arrest. In this context, the most worrying issues
refer to the cases when, at the time of depriving persons of their liberty, it
is not specified whether they are being arrested on the basis of having
committed an alleged crime or an administrative offense.
The cases of not notifying the person deprived of liberty of the
right to inform the person of his/her choice (right to call) are also widespread.
Moreover, in a number of cases, people subjected to administrative arrest are
forced to turn off their phones in police departments, as a result of which,
also not being notified of their rights, the existence of a right to inform the
person of their choice is not clear for the arrestees.
In all the recorded cases, the mentioned right was realized at
the request of the citizens through the mediation of the rapid response groups
of the Human Rights Defender's Office.
The monitoring implemented by the Defender's Office indicates
that children also participated in the assemblies. In this regard, the Human
Rights Defender emphasizes once again that the right of children to express
their opinions during assemblies must be exercised in accordance with
international standards, without pressure or any coercion, bu paying due
attention according to their age and maturity and ensuring their safety.
Furthermore, law enforcement should adopt sensitive and
child-centered approaches when dealing with children in any situation.
Taking into account the urgency of the issues, the mentioned
problems were presented to the competent bodies through verbal communication in
order to ensure that they are properly addressed.
In order to provide systemic solutions to the problems, letters
will also be addressed to the above-mentioned bodies.