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Dear Colleagues, Beneficiaries, and Volunteers,

Please be informed that the Helsinki Association continues its activity, bringing it in line with the rules of the martial law announced in the country.

"HELSINKI ASSOCIATION" HUMAN RIGHTS NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION

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STATEMENT ON THE AZERBAIJANI OFFENSIVE AGAINST ARTSAKH

On September 27, 2020, the dictatorial regime of Azerbaijan launched a large-scale attack along the entire line of contact of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) using heavy artillery, tanks, aircraft and missiles.

Towns and villages in Artsakh are being bombed, including the capital city of Stepanakert, as well as the border of Armenia in the direction of the town of Vardenis. Azerbaijan specifically targets the civilian population in gross violation of international humanitarian law and with absolute disregard for the call by the UN Secretary General for a worldwide ceasefire given the COVID-19 pandemic. 

There are already over a hundred wounded and over a dozen people were killed among the military and civilian population in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), including at least one child. 

This attack is unprecedented in the size and scope of the military arsenal engaged. There is clear evidence that it was prepared in advance and with the apparent support of the Turkish regime. 

We believe that if the international community does not react in a timely and appropriate manner, the military operations may expand beyond the conflict zone, resulting in serious atrocities and a humanitarian crisis in the region, exacerbated by the situation related to the coronavirus outbreak. 

We are determined to support all efforts to address the challenges to human rights, peace, and security in the region.

The Armenian civil society strongly condemns the aggression by the Azerbaijani regime and appeals to the international community, international organizations - the UN, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs - to take urgent and effective measures to end the Azerbaijani regime aggression and to resume negotiations for peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor

Union of Informed Citizens

Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center

Journalists’ Club Asparez

Open Society Foundations - Armenia

Youth Avangard NGO

"Cinemart" youth NGO

For Equal Rights NGO

Centre for Community Mobilization and Support

Hye Dzmer Pap (HaySanta) Charitable Foundation

Pink human rights defender NGO

Helsinki Association for Human Rights NGO

Veles Human Rights NGO

Women’s Rights House

Protection of Rights without Borders NGO

Public Journalism Club

The Armenian Institute of International and Security Affairs (AIISA)

Armenian Progressive Youth NGO

New Generation Humanitarian NGO

Peace Dialogue NGO

Colorful House social-cultural and human right NGO

Armenian Youth League NGO

Human rights power NGO

,, Tatevik,, NGO

Spitak Helsinki Group human rights NGO

Women support center NGO

Young Tavush NGO

Child and Family Development Center Charitable NGO

Armenian Association of Social Workers

Resource Center for Women’s Empowerment NGO

Martuni Wonen' s Community Counsil NGO

Consumers Support Center NGO

Regional Monitoring @ Evaluation Center NGO

OxYGen Foundation

Sose Women's Issues NGO

Shams Humanitarian NGO

Martuni Community Development Center NGO

'You are not alone'' womens support NGO

"Centre of Economic Right" NGO

Restart

Women's Resource Center

Dalma-Sona Fund

NGO Centre of Economic Right

Mission Aid and Development NGO

Road Traffic Safety and Control

Safe traffic

Tumanyan Law Firm

"Khazer" Ecological and Cultural NGO

The Urban Foundation for Sustainable Development

Human Rights Research Center

“Disability-Inclusive Development” NGO

"Poqrik Ishkhan" Educational Complex

Center for Rights Development NGO

Civic Development and Partnership Foundation

Golden Apricot Cinema Development Foundation

Step Forward Social NGO

"Public Awareness and Monitoring Centre"

Non-discrimination and Equality Coalition

Social Justice NGO

Source foundation

"Pathway to" Cultural Charity NGO

Consumers' Consulting Center NGO

Health Policy and Innovation Center NGO

Real World, Real People NGO

"DiverCity" Social-Cultural, Humanitarian NGO

Women's Empowerment Center NGO

Unison NGO

Driver's friend

LAMP foundation

'Artsvabuyn Zeytun'' compatriotic union n.g.o.

EcoLur Informational NGO

"CPI" Armenian Centre

Europe in Law Association

 ''We can'' Non -Gavernemental Organization  for the protection of rights for youth and children with intellectual disabilities and their family members.

Astghatsolk NGO

"Armenian Forests" NGO

The Voice of Silence

"Goy" Environmental-Legal NGO

"Yanus" Legal NGO

"Local Democracy Agency" foundation

Full Life NGO

"Association of Audio-Visual Reporters" NGO

Skarp Inclusive Health Center NGO

Family&Community NGO

Society Without Violence

Work and Motherland Regional Development NGO

Law development and protection foundation

Information Systems Development and Training Center

Armavir Development Center

Freedom of Information Center

"Huysi Metsamor"ngo

"TANIQ"  NGO

National Center of Public Policy Research NGO

<<Women’s Forum>>NGO

"BLEJAN" environmental, social, business support NGO

Satar NGO

“Astghik”  Disabled Children's Parents' Association, NGO

PRKUTYUN center of disabled children and young people

World Vision Armenia

Women's Rights Center NGO

PRKUTYU center of disabled children and young peopleRKUTYUN

Women's Rights Center NGO

ALIQ MEDIA ARMENIA

Country Water Partnership

Freedom of Media and Speech Civil Society Development NGO

"Partnership and Teaching" NGO

"Community and Youth" youth, consulting NGO

"Shirak Teachers' Union" scientific-educational center

Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation

Youth for Ararat civic-educational NGO

Child Protection Network

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STOP Erdogan and Aliyev now!!!

In the early morning of September 27, 2020, in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, with absolute disregard for the call by the UN Secretary-General for a worldwide ceasefire, openly backed by Erdogan's Turkey, Aliev's Azerbaijan launched a large-scale attack along the entire line of contact of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) using heavy artillery, tanks, aircraft, and missiles. There are already over a hundred wounded and over a dozen killed among the military and civilian population, including at least one child. 

This attack is unprecedented in the size and scope of the military arsenal engaged. It is clear that engaging along the entire length of the frontline would have required premeditated moves and strategic dislocation of armed forces and heavy equipment, which suggests that this could not have been an operation countering Armenian aggression. Instead, it is an outrageous all-out attack on the side of Azerbaijan that is fueled by the bellicose rhetoric of Turkey’s top political figures and the cautious stance of the international community, not pursuing the demand of continued negotiations in a resolute manner. Besides, Azerbaijan is using the lack of knowledge to abuse media through propaganda and create a perception that Armenian forces have attacked Azerbaijan. There are numerous reports of Turkey deploying terrorists from Syria and Libya to Azerbaijan to help it fight the war. It is also supplying Azerbaijan with arms and Turkish drones. We believe that Turkey openly supports terrorism and its expansion and intends to further destabilize the region. 

We also believe that if the international community does not react in a timely and appropriate manner, the military operations may expand beyond the conflict zone, resulting in serious atrocities and a humanitarian crisis in the region, exacerbated by the situation related to the coronavirus outbreak. From other conflicts in the region, where Turkey has been leading military operations, one could see the uncontrollable armed clashes involving paramilitary groups and more dangerously, those that fight for the Islamic State. This region has for long been the eyed target of the radical militant groups, and with this escalation spiraling out of control, no-one is guaranteed from witnessing full ignorance of the principles of humanitarian law and unpredictable outcomes for the civilians in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the wider region. The international community has to act now in the defense of the fundamental rights and most of all the right of all the peoples of the region to life and dignity. 

We, the undersigned strongly condemn the Turkey-backed aggression by the Azerbaijani regime and appeal to the international community. We ask for clear actions that go beyond statements and use sanctions, as well as other means to bring the belligerent party to the table. The failure to act now is filled with unpredictable consequences for the region and the world as such.

We call for the UN Secretary-General to stand for Human Rights and Security, as it should.

We call for the Council of Europe to act in the protection of Human Rights. 

We call for NATO to publicly condemn and take immediate action to stop its member state Turkey.

We call for the European Union to act in support of peace and stability in Europe and its neighborhood.

We call for the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to take urgent and effective measures to end the Turkey-backed Azerbaijani regime's aggression and to resume negotiations for peaceful resolution of the conflict. 

 
 
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The Probation Service in the Republic of Armenia. The legislative basis of its operation and the main challenges

         

On May 17, 2016, the Republic of Armenia adopted the Law on Probation, which established the basis for probation in the Republic of Armenia, and established a probation service independent of the penitentiary service. The introduction of this institution was based on the need to move from a punitive policy in the field of criminal justice to a restorative justice system. However, since the adoption of the law and the launch of the service, the assessment of probation activities as such has not been carried out, and the legislative basis of the sector and the relations that still require regulation have not been studied. A practical evaluation of the activities of the service has also not been done, which would allow the identification of the main risks and challenges in the first years of operation.

In the context of the above, the RA penitentiary and probation 2019-2023 strategy and the 2019-2023 action plan for its implementation, in which the problems of the sphere and the directions of reforms are presented, are encouraging[1]. The strategy and action plan have already been approved by the RA Government[2], which allows us to expect the implementation of the goals and actions which have been set.

Probation is one of the main institutions of the criminal justice system, which offers courts a variety of alternatives to imprisonment and relies on specialized and skilled personnel. At the same time, it supports those who have returned from prison to society and promotes their re-socialization.

The Probation Service operating in the Republic of Armenia was established for this purpose and in principle adopted similar principles. According to the concept, the goals of the RA Probation Service were to reduce crimes by monitoring, directing, assisting and supporting those who have committed crimes, promoting their effective re-socialization, public safety, and the administration of justice.

The Probation Service was set up to reduce the need for courts to impose unnecessary sentences, to decrease the number of cases of detention of defendants as a measure of restraint, and to ease the overcrowding of penitentiaries. With the exception of the last aim, these goals are in line with the accepted criteria, specific purpose and role of probation, However, subsequent regulations show that there are still gaps in the legislation that could disrupt the effective operation of the service.

Despite the fact that the law allows for the application of probation at all stages of criminal justice, also providing for a wide range of functions, they have not been implemented yet due to the lack of institutional and complex legislative regulations. For example, alternative pre-trial precautionary measures are not applied due to the lack of provisions in the current criminal procedure legislation. The same concern applies to the application of security measures provided to probation by law, as the current Criminal Code does not have such provisions.

The study also raises some concerns about suspended sentences and the role of the Probation Service in the process of parole, in particular the preparation and submission of reports that play a significant role in this process, which is mandated by law to all employees without particular criteria and requirements.

The issue of electronic surveillance and mediation, which is provided for by law but has not yet been implemented, is still a matter of great concern. On the one hand, there are shortcomings related to its application, on the other hand, again, there are gaps in criminal procedure legislation.

Legislative regulations on mediation are especially concerning because, on the one hand, the current criminal legislation does not provide for mediation, on the other hand, the concept of mediation envisaged in the draft amendments to the Criminal Code is not in line with the relevant provisions of the probation law.

Summarizing the above, we can state that after the introduction of probation in the Republic of Armenia, no institutional and harmonious legislative changes were made, which would have ensured the implementation of all the functions provided for by law.

Recommendations

  • To set an obligation for the Probation Service to provide substantive reports to the public about their service.
  • To take effective and immediate steps to ensure the practical applicability of alternative precautionary and security measures provided by implementing the relevant amendments to the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes.
  • To ensure the use of electronic monitoring by making comprehensive and agreed legislative changes to the penitentiary sector.
  • To align the regulations governing mediation, already adopted by law, with the amendments to the draft Criminal Code.
  • To clarify in law the requirements applicable to mediators.
  • To make re-socialization measures at the pre-trial stage mandatory for the probation beneficiary.
  • To clarify in the probation law the role and powers of individual employees and departments within the service as regards re-socialization.
  • To create a separate section of staff with relevant capabilities and skills for compiling reports for parole procedures.
  • To clarify by law the role of the Probation Service in the post-punishment stage, specifying the selection of measures, procedures for their application, criteria and methods in that stage.
  • For the more effective implementation of a number of powers assigned to the Probation Service by law, create a separate foundation within the Service which, through effective cooperation and coordination, will provide persons who have committed crimes the opportunity for work and employment and education and to take part in other programs.
  • To legislate the issue of financing the Probation Service, to give the service the opportunity to directly participate in the drafting and finalization of the budget in the Ministry of Justice-National Assembly and Government-National Assembly relations.
  • To clarify by law the limits and procedure of prosecutorial control over the Probation Service.

 

[1] The RA penitentiary and probation 2019-2023 strategy and the 2019-2023 action plan for its implementation, page 36-37, 2019: https://www.e-draft.am/projects/1829

[2] RA Government, decision No. 1717-L dated November 28, 2019 approving the RA penitentiary and probation 2019-2023 strategy, the 2019-2023 action plan for its implementation, the financial evaluation of the action plan and the formation and the procedure for organising the activities of the council which coordinates the implementation of the action plan: http://www.irtek.am/views/act.aspx?aid=152278

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