The work of The Helsinki Association for Human Rights 45 years after the signing of the Helsinki Accords
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On May 17, 2016, the Republic of Armenia adopted the Law on Probation, which established the basis for probation in the Republic of Armenia, and established a probation service independent of the penitentiary service. The introduction of this institution was based on the need to move from a punitive policy in the field of criminal justice to a restorative justice system. However, since the adoption of the law and the launch of the service, the assessment of probation activities as such has not been carried out, and the legislative basis of the sector and the relations that still require regulation have not been studied. A practical evaluation of the activities of the service has also not been done, which would allow the identification of the main risks and challenges in the first years of operation.
In the context of the above, the RA penitentiary and probation 2019-2023 strategy and the 2019-2023 action plan for its implementation, in which the problems of the sphere and the directions of reforms are presented, are encouraging. The strategy and action plan have already been approved by the RA Government, which allows us to expect the implementation of the goals and actions which have been set.
Probation is one of the main institutions of the criminal justice system, which offers courts a variety of alternatives to imprisonment and relies on specialized and skilled personnel. At the same time, it supports those who have returned from prison to society and promotes their re-socialization.
The Probation Service operating in the Republic of Armenia was established for this purpose and in principle adopted similar principles. According to the concept, the goals of the RA Probation Service were to reduce crimes by monitoring, directing, assisting and supporting those who have committed crimes, promoting their effective re-socialization, public safety, and the administration of justice.
The Probation Service was set up to reduce the need for courts to impose unnecessary sentences, to decrease the number of cases of detention of defendants as a measure of restraint, and to ease the overcrowding of penitentiaries. With the exception of the last aim, these goals are in line with the accepted criteria, specific purpose and role of probation, However, subsequent regulations show that there are still gaps in the legislation that could disrupt the effective operation of the service.
Despite the fact that the law allows for the application of probation at all stages of criminal justice, also providing for a wide range of functions, they have not been implemented yet due to the lack of institutional and complex legislative regulations. For example, alternative pre-trial precautionary measures are not applied due to the lack of provisions in the current criminal procedure legislation. The same concern applies to the application of security measures provided to probation by law, as the current Criminal Code does not have such provisions.
The study also raises some concerns about suspended sentences and the role of the Probation Service in the process of parole, in particular the preparation and submission of reports that play a significant role in this process, which is mandated by law to all employees without particular criteria and requirements.
The issue of electronic surveillance and mediation, which is provided for by law but has not yet been implemented, is still a matter of great concern. On the one hand, there are shortcomings related to its application, on the other hand, again, there are gaps in criminal procedure legislation.
Legislative regulations on mediation are especially concerning because, on the one hand, the current criminal legislation does not provide for mediation, on the other hand, the concept of mediation envisaged in the draft amendments to the Criminal Code is not in line with the relevant provisions of the probation law.
Summarizing the above, we can state that after the introduction of probation in the Republic of Armenia, no institutional and harmonious legislative changes were made, which would have ensured the implementation of all the functions provided for by law.
 RA Government, decision No. 1717-L dated November 28, 2019 approving the RA penitentiary and probation 2019-2023 strategy, the 2019-2023 action plan for its implementation, the financial evaluation of the action plan and the formation and the procedure for organising the activities of the council which coordinates the implementation of the action plan: http://www.irtek.am/views/act.aspx?aid=152278
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — More than 450 inmates walked out the doors of prisons across Oklahoma on Monday as part of what state officials say is the largest single-day mass commutation in U.S. history. The release of inmates, all with convictions for low-level drug and property crimes, resulted from a bill signed by new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt. The bill retroactively applied misdemeanor sentences for simple drug possession and low-level property crimes that state voters approved in 2016. Stitt has made reducing Oklahoma's highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate one of his top priorities and has appointed reform-minded members to the state's Pardon and Parole Board. Releasing the inmates will save Oklahoma an estimated $11.9 million over the cost of continuing to keep them behind bars, according to the governor's office.
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IN SEPTEMBER 2019,PROTECTDEFENDERS.EUREPORTED AT LEAST 18 NEW ATTACKS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
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