Armenia remains one of the safest countries in the former Soviet Union despite a 7 percent increase in the number of crimes reported by its law-enforcement authorities last year, Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian insisted on Friday.
Official data publicized at a meeting of the leadership of Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General puts the total number of crimes committed in the country at 16,572, up from 15,477 cases recorded in 2010. Significantly, it shows the number of murders jumping by almost 50 percent to 60. Prosecutors also reported 29 failed homicide attempts.
Hovsepian downplayed these figures at the meeting, saying that Armenia’s per-capita crime rate remains the lowest in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). “I don’t consider a decrease or increase by several cases to be a serious process that has affected the crime rate in our republic,” he told other prosecutors. “By and large, the crime rate here is stable.”
“But this is not to say that we have no problems. We do have serious problems,” said Hovsepian. He said it is not uncommon for police and other investigators to act in an incompetent and unprofessional manner.
Hrant Gevorgian, a former law-enforcement official who now works as a trial attorney, said the crime rate rose last year because investigators lack skills and equipment and mainly solve minor offenses. “Dozens of serious crimes such as murders, rapes and robberies remain unsolved,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
According to the official statistics, 17 of the 2011 murders have still not been solved.
Gevorgian claimed in this context that law-enforcement officials often do not dare to press charges against wealthy and government-linked individuals suspected of serious crimes.
The figures publicized by Hovsepian also show a slight increase in corruption cases prosecuted by law-enforcement authorities in 2011. The latter opened 395 corruption-related criminal cases and had 102 persons imprisoned by courts on charges of bribery, embezzlement and other corrupt practices. Hovsepian acknowledged that the real scale of government corruption in the country is larger.