Armenia: Best Practices of OPCAT Implementation

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Date: 12-13 November 2007

Place: Yerevan, Armenia

Partners: Armenian Helsinki Committee Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation

Purpose: To examine 'best practices' of the implementation of the OPCAT at the national level.

Activities: On 12-13 November 2007 representatives from several European and Central Asian countries met in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, to examine so-called best practices of the implementation of the OPCAT at the national level. The two-day seminar was co-organized by the Armenian Helsinki Association, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee as well as the Open Society Institute’s Assistance Foundation. An APT representative attended the seminar to convey its experiences of interesting emerging national visiting mechanisms.

Representatives from countries as diverse as Bulgaria, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Ukraine and Tajikistan also joined their Armenian colleagues in Yerevan to present their divergent experiences of discussing independent detention monitoring and the establishment of national preventive mechanisms in their respective countries. Although in certain countries which have ratified the instrument progress has been made to put in place appropriate national visiting mechanisms, in others very little headway has been made in this respect.

During the event Armenia - as the hosting country - found itself thrown into the spotlight, as national actors discussed various proposals to establish a national mechanism. It also emerged that draft legislation is currently being considered by the Armenian parliament, which has may designate the Public Defender as the NPM.

Nonetheless, on a positive note, during the meeting the Armenian Public Defender, Armen Harutyunyan, publicly confirmed his commitment to working with civil society to develop an effective national body which envisages civil society’s participation. Representatives from this office also stated that the draft law is currently being elaborated to ensure the latter’s involvement. In the past two or so years Armenian civil society has repeatedly called for its involvement in the process of establishing the mechanism and the eventual body itself.

Outcome: The exchange of information about various efforts to establish visiting bodies at the national level was particularly valuable and gave the participants many ideas on how to approach the issue of OPCAT implementation.The meeting was especially relevant for Armenia, which is currently in the midst of considering draft legislation.The event was unique in that it was the first regional meeting on the OPCAT in Europe, attracting participants from countries of the former Soviet Union, Central Europe and the Balkans.

Relevant Documents:  Monitoring Places of Detention: A Practical Guide Armenian Agenda  

Contact Person: Matthew Pringle, APT Europe & Central Asia Programme Officer