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Hrant Gadarigian

Armenia’s Police Chief Seeks to Assure Europe, but We Know Better

Reading the official Armenian Police press release regarding yesterday’s meeting between Chief of Police Vladimir Gasbaryan and Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner  for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, one would get the impression that all is on track in Armenia when it comes to police respecting the rights of citizens and police transparency. 

Yesterday’s meeting was to discuss the “formulation of a new police force” in Armenia and grounding the actions of the police on new principles. 

The Police Department press release quotes Gasbaryan as assuring his European colleagues that the police work transparently in Armenia and that citizens can follow criminal cases on its website.

Gasbaryan, the press release notes, told Nils Muižnieks that cases of Armenian cops hitting and assaulting citizens were the exception, and that only three such cases had been registered during the past two years. 

Where Gasbaryan gets these numbers is anyone’s guess.

Gasbaryan said he was hopeful that the opening session of the Police Conduct Commission, set to take place in a few days would help alleviate any future cases of police misconduct. 

Nils Muižnieks, in response, stressed the need for an independent complaint review board designed to study such cases.

The Commissioner also inquired about how the Armenian police were getting along in their investigations of assaults against local activists and violence against women. 

Gasbaryan responded that four such cases had been solved and that so would the others very shortly.

Again, what cases is he referring to? 

“Civil society today is so aware of its rights that the police just aren’t able to commit arbitrary offences,” noted Gasbaryan. 

This last statement leaves the impression that the cops would be more than willing to go off half cocked if only for those damned informed citizens. 

Bad choice of words, Mr. Gasbaryan.

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