Armenia: achievements and challenges in crime prevention and criminal justice

On 19 May 2022 on the margins of the 31st session of the Commission of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) a virtual side-event took place via video conference call organized by UNRCO Armenia jointly with UNODC ROCA and Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations Office in Vienna. The event approached the topic of “Armenia: achievements and challenges in crime prevention and criminal justice” and brought together over 55 participants.    

“United Nations Country Team through the Cooperation Framework 2021-2025 collaborates with the Government of Armenia and all relevant stakeholders, both national and international, to reduce inequalities through a more effective and trusted justice system and ensure access to justice for all, especially the most vulnerable and left behind”, - mentioned Ms. Lila Pieters Yahia, UN Resident Coordinator a. i. in Armenia in her opening speech. 

Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia, who acted as a moderator, at her welcoming remarks noted: “UNODC ROCA enjoys cooperation with UNCT Armenia, national partners and international development community. Armenia actively engages in the global UNODC/WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) to counter illicit drugs and organized crime while facilitating legitimate trade as well as MoU on cooperation and participation of Armenia in the CCP signed in June 2021. Armenia is also an active participant of UNODC’s Judiciary Cooperation Network for Central Asia and South Caucasus (CASC Network). UNODC ROCA is developing country-specific action plans and roadmaps on cooperation with all Central Asian and South Caucasus countries including with Armenia”.

“I want to congratulate the UN Country Team and particularly the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for effective and mutually beneficial cooperation. Armenia values the important mandate of UNODC in crime prevention and criminal justice and we have been working towards expanding the scope of our successful cooperation, with a view to benefit from the vast knowledge, expertise, and experience of the UNODC for strengthening the criminal justice reforms and crime prevention in Armenia. I am confident that such cooperation would be beneficial not only for Armenia but also for the wider region and beyond”, - said H.E. Ambassador Armen Papikyan, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the UNODC.

During the side event, the participants discussed the challenges and achievements in Armenia.

Ms. Arpine Sargsyan, Deputy Minister of Justice of Armenia informed that Armenia in line with Kyoto Declaration proceeds its multisectoral efforts towards preventing crime and improving criminal justice system. Armenia has adopted a new Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code which would come to the effect in July, 2022 and implemented relevant international standards and the best practices such as alternative imprisonment, improving the standards of prisoners’ treatments, juvenile justice system and etc. There was also a draft of the new Penitentiary Code developed which had passed the first hearing at the National Assembly in May based on the relevant international standards.

Ms. Haykuhi Harutyunyan, Chairperson of the Corruption Prevention Commission of Armenia presented the results of the Corruption Prevention Commission on the establishment and important aspects of the commission’s, including the transparent system of asset declarations of all public officials and their families; integrity checking for the employment of candidates for certain positions, and adoption of the new Code of Conduct of public officials.

Ms. Maria Silvanyan, Human Rights, Justice and Rule of Law Programme Manager, UNDP Armenia told about the UN programmes on the police reform: introduction of audio visual recording systems of the police interviews, trainings for the new patrol police officers. She also presented a number of initiatives with regard to the judicial and constitutional reforms based on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Mr. Gevorg Sargsyan, Deputy Head of Department for Crimes against Public Health, Prosecutor General’s Office of Armenia, shared the challenges in the technology-driven digital space and social media, called for the international cooperation in light of increased risks of drug trafficking from Afghanistan.

Mr. Luis Francisco de Jorge Mesas, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, Coordinator of the CASC Network, UNODC presented that the results of the collaboration between the Prosecutor General’s Office of Armenia and the Secretariat of the CASC Network to facilitate judicial cooperation requests and mutual legal assistance with other countries in the world to obtain valid judicial evidence, to conduct investigations abroad, to obtain extraditions, and etc, in all kind of crimes.

Speakers also shared good practices of Armenia based on scientific and evidence-driven data and a way forward to strengthen the crime prevention and criminal justice reforms in the  country.