Top Armenian Law-Enforcement Official Admits Lack of Independence

Armenia's outgoing Prosecutor General, Aghvan Hovsepian


YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—One of Armenia’s most powerful security officials admitted on Thursday Armenian law-enforcement authorities have long lacked independence and carried out questionable government orders.

“This opinion of human rights activists is somewhat justified because the existence of an independent investigative body has long been deemed necessary in our society,” said Aghvan Hovsepian, the head of the recently formed Investigative Committee.

“All investigative bodies had the status of subordinate divisions [of police and other law-enforcement bodies.] Hence, natural concerns about the independence of investigators,” Hovsepian told reporters.

He claimed that the new law-enforcement body headed by him will be independent. “We will do everything to ensure that every investigator … is truly independent … The president of the republic is also seriously concerned with making this a reality,” he said.

Avetik Ishkhanian, a veteran campaigner leading the Armenian Helsinki Committee, was highly skeptical about Hovsepian’s assurances. “In reality, things will continue to be decided by political orders,” Ishkhanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

The Investigative Committee, modelled on an eponymous agency existing in Russia, was set up by the Armenian authorities earlier this year. It comprises the former police and Defense Ministry divisions tasked with conducting criminal inquiries.

Hovsepian was named by President Serzh Sarkisian to run the committee less than a year after resigning as Armenia’s prosecutor-general following 15 years in office. Throughout his long tenure Hovsepian was dogged by allegations of serious human rights violations voiced by opposition and civic groups.

As chief prosecutor, Hovsepian also played a key role in government crackdowns on the opposition, notably the suppression of 2008 post-election protests in Yerevan. Dozens of opposition members and supporters were jailed on highly controversial charges at the time.

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2 Comments

  1. Armenian said:

    The more we mimic Russia, the more we lose. While most other countries in the world aim to be like the US and Europe (democratic, free and prosperous), Armenia is trying to be like Russia as much as possible. That’ll only be to our detriment.

    It’s evident that ordinary Armenians do not fit in to this kind of society; we cannot thrive and develop while constantly being watched and investigated for “crimes” against the corrupt state. We’re not the kind of nation that would need a “secret police” to investigate our daily actions and political thoughts.

    While the ruling regime steals, robs and pillages the entire country virtually free of any jurisdiction, those very criminals write the rules by which everyone must abide. Armenia will begin to improve when this painfully ironic predicament is done away with, and the people become the owners of the country. Until that day comes, we can only expect more migration, further demoralization, and a continuously weakening Armenia both at home and abroad. Once there’s nothing left to pillage anymore, expect the oligarchs to leave the country unguarded.

    • T.K. said:

      “armenian”
      can you make one comment without mentioning Russia. Your Russophobia is reaching a level of hate crime.

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