27 January 2021, 13:20
Armenian authorities' report on decrease in inmates' mortality sparks rights defenders' scepticism
The number of prison deaths has dropped four-fold, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) of Armenia has reported. To assess the mortality statistics, we should study what has contributed to the above drop, Arthur Sakunts, a human rights defender, has stated. His colleague, Artak Kirakosyan, did not rule out that terminally ill prisoners were released under conditional early relief (CER), so as not to spoil the statistics.
Rustam Badasyan, the MoJ head, has associated the above positive dynamics with the changes in the procedure for providing medical aid to prisoners; in particular, now medical care is provided to inmates without delay. The minister has also noted on the Facebook that there were no deaths among prisoners from COVID-19.
According to the Armenian MoJ, in 2020, a total of 1967 prisoners were held in the penitentiary institutions; in 2019, there were 2221 prisoners. In 2019, a total of 21 prison deaths were recorded.
Arthur Sakunts, a rights defender and the head of the Vanadzor Office of the Helsinki Civil Assembly, has stated that changing the practice of imposing real sentences by courts and replacing them with conditional imprisonments could have a positive effect on reducing the prison mortality rates.
He has added that the problem of suicides in prisons should also be addressed by investigating each such case in order to develop mechanisms to prevent suicides.
Solving the problem of prison mortality requires an individual approach to prisoners' needs, said Artak Kirakosyan, the head of the Civil Society Institute. According to his story, it is necessary to introduce new standards for keeping prisoners.
Author: Tigran Petrosyan; Source: CK correspondent