By Nane Atshemian
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) plans to sponsor a new Western-style police force in Armenia that will embody higher standards of efficiency and moral integrity, the head of its Yerevan office announced on Tuesday.
Ambassador Vladimir Pryakhin said the “municipal public police” will be modeled on Swedish police and will operate in Yerevan as part of a $2 million project designed by the OSCE. He said the unit will be staffed with new officers to be taught Western standards of policing at Armenia’s main police academy. European instructors will teach them, among other things, that “it is inadmissible to get bribes when you are on duty and regulate traffic,” he added.
Pryakhin did not specify if the new force will specialize in combating serious crime, maintaining public order or road policing. He said only that it will have a special “rapid reaction center” and 50 patrol cars to be supplied by the OSCE. He also admitted that the organization has yet to secure funding for the project from foreign donors.
Despite a relatively low level of crime in Armenia, the police and other law-enforcement agencies are believed to be highly corrupt and mistrusted by the population. They are also accused by local and international human rights groups of routinely mistreating criminal suspects in custody.