2003 Report by the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Theo van Boven


Armenia

127. By letter dated 23 September 2002, the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received information on the following individual cases, to which the Government responded by letter dated 21 November 2002.

128. Karen Asloian was reportedly ill-treated and threatened in pre-trial detention at Stepanakert military police station in February 1999, reportedly in an attempt to force him to confess to a murder, as well as in the custody of the military police in Yerevan, where he was reportedly transferred on 16 February and kept for seven months without an official warrant. In Yerevan, he was reportedly beaten, including by being whipped with thin twigs on the soles of his feet to the point of losing consciousness, reportedly in the presence of a senior official of the criminal department of the military police. Fellow soldiers of Karen Asloian reportedly stated at the trial at Lori Regional Court in December 1999 that they had given false testimony during the pre-trial detention stage, under the order of the investigator of the military procuracy. The soldiers had reportedly been beaten and otherwise illtreated, and threatened with arrest by the military police, both in Stepanakert and in Yerevan. Karen Asloian was said to be held at the strict regime colony of the town of Artik. He was believed to be in a poor state of health. On 21 February 2002, his family reportedly lodged a second complaint with the Presidential Human Rights Commission urging them to investigate the torture allegations.

129. The Government informed the Special Rapporteur that on 8 February 2001, the Court of Cassation concluded that his rights had not been violated. Furthermore, on 17 July 2001, a Commission set up by order of the Procurator General reviewed the criminal case involving the alleged victim. In its report to the Human Rights Commission of the Presidentís Office, it conc luded that neither during the proceedings nor during the court hearings had any act of violence been committed against him and that no violations of substantive or procedural rules had occurred.

130. Vaghan Ghukasian, a freelance journalist, was reportedly summoned to the Ministry of the Interior and severely beaten by the head of the criminal investigation department and another officer on 6 June 2000, allegedly in retaliation for a paper he had written which was critical of the head of the criminal investigation department and of the investigation into the October 1999 shootings at the parliament. On 9 June 2000, he reportedly went to the Polyclinic 19 in Yerevan where abrasions and bruises on his chest, right hand and forehead were diagnosed.

131. The Government indicated that on 15 June 2000, the Office of the Military Procurator had decided not to institute criminal proceedings in the absence of an act constituting an offence. On 30 June 2001, the alleged victim provided the Office of the Military Procurator with additional information concerning the treatment he was reportedly subjected to by members of the Central Criminal Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. However, according to the Government, a forensic examination conducted on 6 August 2001 found that it was not possible to establish whether his body bore any injuries. The Government added that on 30 September 2001, the case materials had been forwarded to the Procuratorís Office of Tsentr and Nork-Marash districts. The latter subsequently decided not to institute criminal proceedings on the grounds that the actions of members of the Central Criminal Investigation Department did not constitute an offence.

132. By the same letter, the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received follow-up information regarding Nairi Unanian, a former journalist, and his brother Karen Unanian (see E/CN.4/2002/76/Add.1, para. 63). Nairi Unanian was allegedly beaten with rubber batons. In May 2000, Nairi and Karen Unanian were said to have written to the President withdrawing all their statements against Aleksan Arutiunian, Arutiun Arutiunian (ibid., para. 64), Nairi Badalian, and Musheg Movsisian (ibid., para. 65) on the grounds that they had been extracted under duress. While giving testimony during the trial on 17 April 2001, Nairi Unanian repeated his allegations that he was tortured during the pre-trial investigation and was forced to make statements against a number of people allegedly involved in the October 1999 shootings. A formal statement he had made on 8 June 2000 describing the illtreatment during the pre-trial investigation had reportedly not been included in the material before the court. During the court hearing the day after, the prosecution reportedly submitted to the court Nairi Unanianís formal statement of 8 June. The prosecution reportedly explained that on 1 June 2000, Nairi Unanian had filed a complaint regarding the method of investigation, in response to which an intradepartmental investigation was opened. The investigation reportedly concluded on 30 June with a decision not to initiate criminal proceedings for lack of sufficient evidence.

133. The Government informed the Special Rapporteur that Nairi Unanian had not filed a complaint against any specific person and that criminal proceedings were still underway in the court of first instance of Tsentr and Nork-Marash districts in the city of Erevan at the time of writing. It added that the court will assess the statements made, including the allegations of use of violence.

Follow-up to previously transmitted communications

134. By letter dated 7 January 2002, the Government responded to all cases transmitted by the Special Rapporteur in August and September 2001 (ibid., paras. 62 to 69).

135. Concerning Nairi and Karen Unanian (see above and E/CN.4/2002/76/Add.1, para. 63), the Government responded that on 1st June 2000, Nairi Unanian had stated that M. Movsisian, H. Haroutunian and N. Badalian had not abetted the crime and that he had been forced to give false testimonies. On 30 June 2000, the Investigator of the General Procuracy of Armenia decided not to initiate criminal proceedings against those accused of misconduct in the investigation due to the absence of corpus delicti.

136. Concerning Arutian Arutiunian (ibid., para. 64), the Government indicated that on 10 May 2000, the General Procuracy of Armenia had received his complaint alleging illegitimate actions by the investigation team of the Military Procuracy. According to the investigation by the General Procuracy of Armenia the complaint was declared not to be well-founded. The hunger strike started by Arutian Arutiunian in protest at the lack of medical attention was not known to the pre-investigation body.

137. Concerning Musheg Movsisian (ibid., para. 65), the Government responded that the conclusion of a forensic medical report ordered by the Office of the Military Prosecutor, which was received on 13 January 2000, indicated only previous scars from a surgical operation. On 14 May 2000, the Office of the General Prosecutor received the complaint from the above-named regarding illegitimate actions taken against him. On 17 March 2000, the General Prosecutor of Armenia turned it down as unfounded.

138. Concerning Vahagn Ghukasian (ibid., para.68), the Government noted that he had been questioned by the head of the General Department of Criminal Investigations and his deputy in relation to a text he had written. They stated that they had not beaten him. On 4 September 2001, the assistant to the General Prosecutor of Kentron and Nork Ė Marash stated that after examination, his allegations were dismissed on grounds of lack of sufficient evidence. A subsequent investigation into the criminal damage to his car was terminated on 3 September 2001 on grounds of inability to identify the perpetrator.

139. Concerning Rafik Tononian (ibid., para. 69), the Government replied that on 3 September 1998, he was informed that he was under investigation and detained as a preventive measure. On 28 August 2000, he applied to the Gegharqounik regions procuracy and stated that he was a believer and ready to incur liability for the penalty specified by the law. On 1 November 2000, he was sentenced to two yearsí imprisonment. Regarding the allegation of beatings, which are being denied by the Government, no complaint had been submitted by Rafik Tononian.

140. Concerning Rafik Safarian and Zhora Khachatrian (E/CN.4/1997/7/Add.1, para. 2), the Government replied that on 23 March 1995 criminal proceedings had been initiated by the Prosecutorís Office of Yerevanís Spandarian district (now Kentron community). Both victims and many witnesses had been interrogated, however the person responsible for the crime was not identified and the pre-trial investigation was suspended on 23 May 1995.

141. Concerning Razmik Grigorian (ibid., para. 4), the Government responded that he had been summoned to the Interior Ministry on 8 May 1995 in connection with the murder of Vachik Gharibian. Razmik Grigorian subsequently died in the office of the Head of the Department. The preliminary investigatio n concluded that his death was due to a heart attack and that he had not been exposed to any violence. The part of the criminal case concerning his death was terminated due to the absence of corpus delicti.

142. Concerning Rouben Hakobian (E/CN.4/1998/38/Add.1, para. 13 (a)), the Government responded that he and other Deputies of the National Assembly were charged by the General Prosecutor in connection with riots in Yerevan city. He was detained on 26 September 1996 and held in custody in solitary confinement. In the absence of any grounds for keeping him in detention, he was released by a decision dated 12 October 1996. On 8 May 1998, criminal proceedings were terminated after his allegations were considered groundless.

143. Concerning Gagik Mkrtchian and Davit Vardanian (ibid.,(c)), they were arrested on 25 September 1996 in connection with the riots in Yerevan and subjected to beatings, inter alia, by the Head of the Security Service of the former President of Armenia and by the Head of the Department of Criminal Investigations of the Ministry of Interior Affairs. They were held in solitary confinement at the Ministry of National Security. Gagik Mrktchian was held in custody as a precautionary measure, but was released 10 days later. After his complaint, a criminal case was initiated and the Head of the Department of Criminal Investigations was detained on 15 October 2001. The criminal investigation is ongoing. The Government indicated that, when questioned, the staff on duty on 25 September 1996 denied that Gagik Mkrtchian had been detained and beaten.

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