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Government Pledges More Objective Parole Decisions


Armenia -- Minister of Justice Hrayr Tovmasian at a press conference in Yerevan, 25Jan2012.

Armenia -- Minister of Justice Hrayr Tovmasian at a press conference in Yerevan, 25Jan2012.

The Armenian authorities pledged on Thursday to show greater transparency and objectivity in considering parole applications from individuals imprisoned for various crimes.

Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s cabinet approved a draft presidential decree meant to serve that purpose.

Under Armenian law, convicts that have served at least one third of their prison sentences can ask special state commissions appointed by the president of the republic to release them on parole. The commissions are dominated by senior law-enforcement officials.

Human rights activists and independent lawyers have complained in recent years about what they see as a lack of transparency in the commissions’ activities, saying that it a breeding ground for corruption. They also say that the parole bodies often fails to substantiate its decisions.

Justice Minister Hrayr Tovmasian said the authorities intend to address these concerns as he presented President Serzh Sarkisian’s draft decree to fellow cabinet members. “These changes stem from legal and judicial reforms taking place in our country,” he said.

“They will allow us to ensure the transparency of the commissions’ activities and their internal independence,” added Tovmasian. “This will be followed by a government decision that will set explicit criteria for the eligibility of imprisoned individuals seeking early release.”

The minister did not elaborate on those criteria.
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