Tag Archives: justice

On 25 September the official contract signing ceremony for winning grants under the small grants scheme of the “STRONG CSOs for a Stronger Armenia” project took place. 17 winning projects received funding, exceeding €900,000 (projects could receive up to €60,000). These projects will be implemented by 46 civil society organisation (CSO) partnerships based in Yerevan and other Armenian marzes. The implementation of these projects will not only bring about positive change, but also strengthen civil society in Armenia by building a strong CSO network across the country. This network will provide CSOs with the opportunity to work in consortia, share experiences, learn from each other, and develop their skills and capacities.

DSC_0898Sub-granted projects will begin from 1 October 2017 and last 12 months. Projects cover the following sectors: youth, social services, justice, and human rights, entrepreneurship, and education. The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, together with the President of Podlaska Regional Development Foundation and “STRONG CSOs for a Stronger Armenia” Grants Manager, Andrzej Parafiniuk, spoke to attendees of the ceremony.

DSC_0523Ambassador Świtalski highlighted in his opening speech that a crossroads had been crossed: ‘Congratulation to all of our civil society partners who have made it to this stage. Signing the contracts has brought you past the crossroads – over the past two years you have tested your patience, congratulations for surviving until now! We have now 17 excellent projects. We are naturally interested in the success of this project, as your success as pioneers will determine how often and how deep the concept of sub granting will go. So, today, while signing the contracts, understand your responsibility: there is no other option than success, it is an obligation!’

DSC_0459Parafiniuk echoed the importance of the project event: ‘This is a very important moment for the project. You have passed through hundreds of hours of training, coaching, seminars and conferences, as well as many other activities which we have proposed to you over the past two years. Now we have come to the most important part of the project – you have to practice what you have learned. Today we are signing contracts and you will start to implement your projects in a few days. Success is in our common interest, so I am sure we will cooperate well during the projects’ implementation’.

The “STRONG Civil Society Organisations for Stronger Armenia” project is aimed at increasing the capacities of CSOs in Armenia to be independent development actors, more competent, more responsive to citizens’ needs, and to proactively support the country’s development through practical, project-based approaches. The project is being implemented by a consortium of the Podlaska Regional Development Foundation and DAS.AM. It was launched on 1 October 2015 and the implementation period is 3 years. Target groups of the project include CSOs across Armenia (not just Yerevan) and their client groups, the private sector, state institutions, and different segments of society. The project is co-funded by the European Union.

Twenty-two trainers from the Justice Academy of Armenia received certificates on 4 October 2016 for successfully passing training-of-trainers courses. The certificate award ceremony was organised as part of the “Supporting the criminal justice reform and combating ill-treatment and impunity in Armenia” project, which is implemented by the European Union and Council of Europe’s Programmatic Cooperation Framework for Eastern Partnership Countries 2015-2017. The European Union provides EUR 377.415 (90%) of the funding for the project.
The training of 22 future trainers will help boost the knowledge and implementation of core human rights standards in Armenia in line with the Criminal Justice Reform process. The project and the development of a training programme, training material and the instruction of the 22 trainers are based on a thorough assessment of knowledge gaps and investigative practices among investigators and prosecutors conducted in 2015. The new teaching programme covers general criminal investigative methodology, investigations of alleged torture and ill-treatment, cases involving the right to life, investigations involving vulnerable victims/witnesses and suspects such as children and women and pre-trial detention, and other related investigatory issues courses. Additionally, the training sessions also helped them to link their newly acquired knowledge with their practical experience, further enhancing their skills.
The ultimate goal of the new courses to be offered is to contribute to the fight against impunity, strengthen human rights protection and the rule of law in the country.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia Ambassador Piotr Świtalski was present at the award ceremony and spoke about the EU’s support for justice reform: ‘The EU is very pleased to be associated with this project. In the past the EU has spent almost €50 million supporting the justice sector in Armenia. We are satisfied with how we contribute to reforms in Armenia, but we want to continue our engagement by working with the new Armenian government to determine and define new areas of cooperation on justice. This is an important project and Armenia needs good investigators. Thanks to this project Armenian investigators have learned about new developments in the standard-setting process, led by Council of Europe. I hope that Armenian law enforcement and justice agencies will benefit from this project and will be able to deal with the problems that exist not only in Armenia but also in Europe’.
Natalia Voutova, Head of the CoE office in Yerevan, highly appreciated the cooperation between the Council of Europe and the Justice Academy, highlighting the importance of well-researched courses and an established pool of trainers.
The new training material is publicly available and can be browsed or downloaded here:
http://justiceacademy.am/#791
http://www.coe.int/en/web/yerevan/publications1

An award ceremony for 23 participants of the mediator skills training was held on 9 October 2015, where they were presented with accreditation and foundation certificates. The training had been conducted in Armenia on 12-18 August 2015 by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), a leading mediation training provider from the United Kingdom. The training was organised within the framework of the EU and CoE joint “Strengthening the independence, professionalism, and accountability of the justice system in Armenia” project.
ARS_1734David Avakian, Project Manager in the EU Delegation to Armenia, congratulated everyone on their achievement, as well as partners for the successful implementation of the training courses.
The Head of the Council of Europe (CoE) Office in Yerevan, Natalia Voutova, talked about mediation in Armenia judicial reforms: ‘The CoE believes that, with the introduction of court-annexed mediation, the functions and goals of the judiciary in providing easy access to justice and the speedy resolution of cases will be better met, and this will reduce the backlog of cases in Armenian courts. It is my pleasure to award certificates to all the participants. The CoE believes that the first 23 mediators certified by CEDR will have a valuable impact on the successful application of mediation in Armenia’.
Arsen Mkrtchyan, Armenian Deputy Minister of Justice, also attended the event and stressed the importance the mediators would play: ‘The Ministry of Justice welcomes this initiative. I hope we will cooperate with all of you mediators in the future. With the support of EU, CoE, and CEDR you have participated in very important training courses and I am sure that it will have a positive impact on your career’.
The training provided Armenian mediators with the necessary knowledge and skills for effective mediation. It laid the foundation for understanding the theory and practice of mediation in more detail, thus, supporting participants’ continuous improvement as mediators.

The launch of a new project on criminal justice and fighting ill-treatment and impunity in Armenia took place on 30 September 2015. The new project raises core issues, such as the challenges faced by the Armenian criminal justice system and how the application of European human rights standards can be improved at the national level.
The main objective of the project is to strengthen the implementation of European human rights standards in Armenia. The specific objectives are to support the alignment of human rights policies and practice by ensuring the compliance of legislative and regulatory frameworks with European standards, and to build the capacities of investigators and prosecutors.
ARS_0227Piotr Switalski, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, attended the event and stressed the importance of justice reform: ‘It is a real great pleasure for me to be here at this event, where we are launching a very important project financed by the European Union. Supporting justice in Armenia is one of the priorities for the EU. We have sponsored and implemented a number of projects in Armenia and we are determined to continue our support. Two days ago, when I had a meeting with the Armenian Minister of Justice, I heard a very storng commitment from her to continue the cooperation between the Armenian government and the EU. Indeed, the EU is commited to assisting Armenia in further justice reforms’.
Gevorg Kostanyan, the Armenian Prosecutor General, echoed this sentiment: ‘The implementation of this project is very important for Armenia, because it is aimed at strengthening human rights protection and preventing any kind of physical and psychological torture. The Armenian constitution bans all kinds of torture in our country. The best way to fight against torture is public awareness. There are many issues that can be solved with the support of this project’.
The main target groups of the project are staff from the Armenian Ministry of Justice, criminal justice reform stakeholders, trainers from the Justice Academy, prosecutors, and investigators.
ARS_0196Arpine Hovhannisyan, the Armenian Minister of Justice, spoke out against torture: ‘Human rights abuses or torture of a person acquire special meaning when they are displayed by an official in a criminal investigation. We need to solve this issue through the joint efforts of all stakeholders. This solution to the problem can be successful only in cases where the fight is effective on both the practical and legislative level’.
The project is financed by the EU and the CoE, and the overall budget is ‎€500,000. The duration of the project is 24 months.

The website of the Justice Academy was launched on 17 September 2015. Its design and development was done within the framework of the joint European Union and Council of Europe’s “Strengthening the independence, professionalism and accountability of the justice system in Armenia” project. The project provides legislative assistance and institutional and capacity-building support to the Ministry of Justice, judicial institutions, Justice Academy and School of Advocates for two years until May 2016. Development of the website for the Justice Academy is one of the sub-components of the project.
ARS_2827David Avakian, Project Manager from the EU Delegation to Armenia, congratulated everyone with the successful implementation of the website.
During the website launch, the Head of the Council of Europe (CoE) Office in Yerevan, Natalia Voutova, said: ‘The website that we are launching today is part of our “Strengthening the independence, professionalism and accountability of the justice system in Armenia” project. The CoE has a long history of cooperation with the Armenian Ministry of Justice and the Justice Academy, and I am very glad that today we are taking a step forward in reinforcing this training institution in Armenia that trains future judges, prosecutors and investigators. We all know how important having a website in 21st century is, especially a website that is devoted to the initial and continuous training of professionals’.
Ruben Melikyan, Rector of the Academy of Justice, spoke about the importance of the new website for the academy: ‘Today is really a very special day for the Academy of Justice, beause from now on we can proudly write the website address on our business cards. With our website we are becoming more represented in the virtual world, which is very important for several reasons: we will become more visible for our partners and our work will be more accessible. However, the most important thing is that we will be more transparent to the public. We promise that our website will be open to everybody’.
The newly developed website will provide the following opportunities to its users and beneficiaries:
• Greater accessibility;
• Greater possibilities for enhancing communications between judges and prosecutors;
• The Justice Academy online platform for e-courses
Check out the new website on www.justiceacademy.am.