The prohibition of torture is absolute and cannot be suspended, terminated, or inoperative even when the existence of the state is at stake. Aram Orbelyan’s lecture within the framework of lawyers’ protest actions

A “public educational marathon” was held on the last day of the three-day protest actions announced by the Chamber of Advocates, during which Aram Orbelyan, the managing partner of Concern Dialog law firm, PhD in international law, delivered a lecture. The protest is announced following repeating cases of violence against advocates at the law enforcement body representing clients and ineffective investigation of previous situations. The protests aimed to exclude and prevent such situations by raising awareness of the wider public and drawing attention from relevant authorities and international partners.

Within the “absolute prohibition of torture and advocacy” topic, he spoke about several international treaties on human rights and the regulations of the RA Constitution.

He pointed out that the prohibition of torture is enshrined in many international treaties with the participation of the RA, particularly in the European Convention on Human Rights, the Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment and some others. Aram Orbelyan noted that international courts and treaty instruments have directly recorded that the absence of torture is one of the descriptors of a contemporary established state. In such states, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.

The speaker emphasized that Article 3 of the ECHR and Article 26 of the RA Constitution are among the articles that cannot be suspended, terminated, or derogated from even when the existence of the state is at risk, for example, in terms of the fight against terrorism or other similar situations. For example, freedom of assembly (rallies), freedom of speech, and property rights can be limited, and the prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, or punishment is absolute and cannot be limited under any circumstances.

Aram Orbelyan pointed out that the Constitution and most international treaties do not clearly define torture, but judicial practice and, in many cases, “ordinary” statutes, like criminal codes, have singled out their elements. This practice is generally consistent with the Convention Against Torture, according to which the concept of “torture” means any act by which severe physical or mental pain or suffering is intentionally caused to a person in order to obtain information or a confession from him/her or a third person, to punish him/her for that act, committed or suspected of committing by him/her or a third person, or for the purpose of intimidating or coercing him/her or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, where such pain or suffering is caused by or at the instigation of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity or consent. This does not include pain and suffering arising solely from or specific to legal sanctions. The RA Criminal Code contains consistent wording for the crime of torture.

“The fact that the RA Constitution prohibits torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is insufficient because the state also must provide for relevant implementation mechanism. Torture must have legal consequences for the torturer and the tortured person; otherwise, the very essence of justice is undermined”, Aram Orbelyan detailed.

He also expressed concern regarding the recent cases of torture of individuals detained in police stations and penitentiary institutions, stressing that each case should be recorded and be the subject of a detailed investigation.

Aram Orbelyan did not consider it less essential to inflict mental suffering on a person by the state’s representative, which, unfortunately, also exists in Armenia. The lawyer cited a specific example when the prosecuting body, knowing clearly that a person was innocent, initiated criminal proceedings against her, obtained an arrest warrant to punish the person’s relative (her son), and forced him to appear before the law enforcement authorities.

The speaker particularly emphasized the role of the courts, noting that if torture was recorded in the framework of the case, the criminal prosecution should be ceased altogether and not exclusively limited to declaring the evidence inadmissible. Only this approach would be in a position to exclude situations of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment as such.

The expert in international law noted that the problem of torture exists in many countries, and the fight against it must be continuous and principled and engage wide circles of the public. It should not be limited to only law enforcement but should also include educational and awareness-raising elements so that the wider public has the correct perceptions and understanding of the problem. Only under those conditions will it be possible to adequately fight against the exclusion of torture and ill-treatment.

1 Charents str., Office 207 Yerevan, 0025, Armenia

+374 60 27 88 88 +374 10 57 51 21

1 Charents str., Office 207 Yerevan, 0025, Armenia

+374 60 27 88 88 +374 10 57 51 21