A final conference for the project “Supporting the criminal justice reform and combating ill-treatment and impunity in Armenia” co-funded through the European Union and Council of Europe Partnership for Good Governance was held on 12 December. The conference marked the successful accomplishment of this project.
Ms Natalia Voutova, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, thanked in her opening speech the European Union for its strong support and funds that make the implementation of this project possible. She also extended her gratitude to all the partners of the project for excellent cooperation and commitment. The great work done together so far has paved the way to the protection of human rights in Armenia.
H.E. Mr Piotr Switalski, Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador reiterated that the respect for human rights is one of the key priorities in the EU’s external relations. Combating torture and ill-treatment is an indispensable part of this work. The EU commitment to human rights is further emphasised through the wide-scope support that is being provided to Armenia.
Mr Artak Zeynalyan, acting Minister of Justice of Armenia, Mr Arman Tatoyan, Human Rights Defender of Armenia and Mr Sergey Arakelyan, Rector of the Justice Academy of Armenia, appreciated the productive cooperation with the Council of Europe and acknowledged the importance of the tangible and sustainable results achieved during the project.
From July 2015 to December 2018, the Council of Europe was implementing this project aimed at supporting the alignment of human rights policy and practice in the field of criminal justice by ensuring compliance of legislative and regulatory frameworks with European standards and building the capacities of legal professionals and National Human Right Institutions to prevent and combat ill-treatment.
The project helped to advance the criminal justice reform in Armenia by providing expert analysis and support in drafting a number of key legal acts, including the draft Criminal Procedure Code and draft Criminal Code. It strengthened the institutional capacity of the Justice Academy to deliver high quality human right training programme, which is another significant achievement. Well-trained investigators are essential in a legal system that promotes the protection of human rights and supports the rule of law, therefore 650 investigators and 112 candidate investigators were trained on the human rights curriculum in 2016-2018.
The project also contributed to the development of the capacity of judges, judicial servants, prosecutors, staff of the Human Rights Defender’s Office and NGO representatives through the organisation of a number of seminars, workshops, round table discussions and trainings-of-trainers to better apply European human rights standards in their daily work. Based on the project’s recommendations, the pre-trial electronic investigation case management system of the Investigative Committee was improved so as to increase the quality of the proceedings and to strengthen human rights safeguards.
Furthermore, the study of national courts’ practice of 2008-2018 on cases of ill-treatment, a unique research paper, was prepared for the first time, based on a Council of Europe methodology of assessing the overall effectiveness of the judicial practice on the basis of more than 15 principles of the Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
The capacity development activities were carried out under the umbrella of the European Programme for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP). 17 successful graduates of the HELP distance learning course on “Prohibition of ill-treatment” were awarded with certificates of completion at the conference.
The final conference also summarised the key results and lessons learned which laid ground for the follow-up project already included in the Action Plan for Armenia 2019-2022.