The SPT expresses its concern and regret however, that not all credential letters
granting unimpeded access to all places of detention in Armenia were delivered prior to the
start of the joint visits, which could have hindered such access in contravention to article 12
of the OPCAT. The SPT emphasizes the importance of receiving a general credential letter
granting access to all places of detention, issued at the highest necessary level to be
effective vis-à-vis any authority controlling any such place.

II. The national preventive mechanism
Armenia acceded to the Convention against Torture on 13 September 1993 and
acceded to the OPCAT on 14 September 2006. On 8 April 2008, Parliament designated the
Human Rights Defender’s Office (HRDO) as NPM, through an amendment to the 2003
Human Rights Defender Act. Article 6.1 of the Act, introduced in 2008, states that the
Human Rights Defender is designated as an ‘independent national mechanism’ under the
OPCAT. The amendments provide no further detail on the functioning of the Ombudsman's
Office as NPM.
The tasks and powers of the NPM therefore derive from the OPCAT, in particular
articles 19 and 20, and have been further elaborated in the Internal Regulation of the NPM.
From 2009-2011, the NPM’s functions were carried out by a team of 3 HRDO staff
and 4 NGO representatives, selected by the Human Rights Defender. Visits to places of
detention were carried out on the condition that delegations comprised at least one HRDO
staff member and that the Human Rights Defender was informed of every visit beforehand.
Funding came from the 3-year project under the European Instrument for Democracy and
Human Rights.
In 2011, the Human Rights Defender established the Department for the Prevention
of Torture and Violence within the Human Rights Defender’s Office, which was charged
with the fulfilment of the HR Defender’s NPM mandate. The Department consists of 4
professionals (the head of the department, a psychologist, a lawyer and a doctor), who
partake in the visits of the NPM. As of August 2013, the position of psychologist was
vacant. As to the filling of these posts, the NPM indicated to the SPT that this will depend
on the budget allocations of 2014.
The involvement of NGOs in the NPM was formalized in 2010 with the
establishment of the Expert Council on the Prevention of Torture and Violence (the Expert
Council), by the Order of the Human Rights Defender (Order N 002-L). Based on article 26
of the Law on the Human Rights Defender’s Office, the Human Rights Defender may
establish Expert Councils composed of individuals with respective background in human
rights and fundamental freedoms, who shall be involved on a voluntary basis and perform
their activities without any compensation. The Expert Council members support the HRDO
in carrying out its activities as NPM through taking part in visits and compiling relevant
documents on those visits, which are later included in the NPM report. The Expert Council
functions in accordance with the “Regulations” confirmed by the Defender. It cannot
publish its own reports, as it was established by and adjunct to the HRDO.
Thus, the NPM is a de facto ‘Ombudsman plus’ model (not de jure since the
involvement of civil society in the work of NPM rests upon the Order of the Public
Defender). The involvement was further regulated through a Memorandum of
Understanding, signed in June 2011 between the Human Rights Defender and seven civil
society organisations.
As of end March 2013, the Expert Council was composed of 11 members (7 NGO
representatives, 3 independent experts who have expertise in psychology, sociology and


Select target paragraph3