Wednesday, May 5, 2010

OSCE helps promote trial and criminal justice reform in Armenia

The Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Ambassador Sergey Kapinos, met Armenia's Prosecutor General Aghavn Hovsepyan to discuss justice sector reforms, including implementation of recommendations contained in the trial monitoring report recently released by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

A workshop on ODIHR's trial monitoring recommendations, as they relate to pre-trial proceedings, was also held on 27 April. In March, ODIHR published a report on the trials that took place in the aftermath of the March 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.

Kapinos noted the Prosecutor General's constructive approach to the recommendations. "We were glad to learn that some of ODIHR's recommendations were immediately accepted, and we understand that certain recommendations will need time for implementation. The OSCE Office stands ready to assist and support the endeavours of the Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Court of Cassation," he said.

Hovsepyan said: "We highly appreciate the support from the OSCE to reveal shortcomings and find comprehensive solutions to help advance the rule of law and the efficiency of the justice system in Armenia. We hope that further support will be provided to increase the efficiency of ongoing reforms; already a number of actions are planned to implement the recommendations in the report."

Kapinos commended actions taken by the Prosecutor's Office to investigate the case of Vahan Khalafyan, who died while in police custody on 13 April. He also welcomed the Prosecutor General's pledge to investigate cases of alleged violence against journalists, and to promote the Prosecutor's role in police accountability mechanisms, a challenge addressed in a recent report by the OSCE Office.

The OSCE Office has supported the Prosecutor General to upgrade its website to promote interactive communication and help users learn about the activities of the Prosecutor's Office. The OSCE Office is also working with the Prosecutor's Office to identify potential areas for improvement with criminal data collection and will organize an assessment visit by an international expert from the Gottingen University of Criminal Law.

Source: OSCE. Published in Yerevan on 4 May 2010.

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