OFFICERS OF ARMENIAN MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS EXERCISE ILLEGAL ACTIONS AT NG NGO TEMPORARY SHELTER
On November 24, 2023, at around 9:15 pm, the officers of the Internal Security and Anti-Corruption Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Armenia visited, without any legal justification, the temporary shelter owned by New Generation Humanitarian NGO (NG NGO).
The officers of the Internal Security and Anti-Corruption Department forced the employee of the NG NGO shelter to open the shelter door, noting that they had to meet Fatima Zurabova by all means. The NG NGO employee demanded that the officers provide a document stating their right to be present at the NG NGO shelter, however the officers only informed that the aim of their visit was to have a conversation with Fatima and clarify some issues related to her safety.
Fatima Zurabova appeared before the police officers but declined to talk to them without the presence of a lawyer, while the officers insisted on the necessity of having a talk.
Thereafter, the NG NGO lawyer talked on the phone with the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs having visited the shelter and demanded that they present the legal grounds for the exercised actions, however the officers failed to provide any legal justification. Taking into account Fatima’s wish, as well as the fact of illegal presence of the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the shelter, the NG NGO lawyer demanded that the officers leave the place and thus an agreement was reached to address the issue later during the working day, when the officers would present the relevant legal justifications for their actions. However, the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs not only failed to leave the territory of the shelter but also asked Fatima questions. When Fatima refused to answer their questions, they left the shelter, but remained in the area adjacent to the shelter.
At around 9։30-10pm, Vaghinak Martirosyan, Head of the Internal Security and Anti-Corruption Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs contacted the NG NGO lawyer. Mr. Martirosyan stated that they had started an investigation regarding the events that took place in the police station, about which information had been spread in the media.
In response to the lawyer’s question as to how they had learnt about the location of the NG NGO shelter, Mr. Martirosyan failed to provide any clear information.
Mr. Martirosyan requested that the NG NGO lawyer let the officers of the Department hear Fatima Zurabova’s explanations, however the lawyer rejected the request, due to the fact that no legal document had been provided thereby and it was impossible to ensure the lawyer’s presence at that very moment.
In the end, an agreement was reached to discuss the issue on a working day under the conditions of availability of the relevant legal documents and the involvement of a lawyer.
Subsequently, police officers dressed in civilian clothes walked around the area adjacent to the shelter of NG NGO, and left only after the lawyer of NG NGO and the employee from the Staff of the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia contacted Vaghinak Martirosyan, Head of the Internal Security and Anti-Corruption Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and demanded the withdrawal of the officers from the area.
Then it became known that the police officers had called the psychologist of NG NGO and asked for Fatima’s location. During the telephone conservation, the police officer informed the psychologist that they were aware when and for how long the psychologist had talked with Fatima. The NG NGO psychologist declined answering the questions, noting that they had no obligation to disclose information about their beneficiaries to third parties.
NG NGO has already alerted its partner local and international organizations and the Human Rights Defender about the incident.
New Generation Humanitarian NGO records that the following illegal actions have been exercised by the officers of the Internal Security and Anti-Corruption Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Armenia:
- Being present, without any legal justification, in the territory owned by NG NGO on a leasehold basis;
- Encroaching on the rights of other citizens present at the time at the shelter, revealing the identities of other asylum seekers;
- Filming Fatima Zurabiva, without the latter’s consent;
- Pursuing the interrogation of Fatima Zurabova, without the latter’s consent and the presence of a lawyer.
Based on the above, NG NGO condemns the illegal actions exercised by the Internal Security and Anti-Corruption Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Armenia and demands that:
- the latter act in compliance with the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Armenia;
The Republic of Armenia Prosecutor’s Office:
- investigate and give an appropriate legal assessment to the actions pursued by the officers of the Internal Security and Anti-Corruption Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
The Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia:
– demonstrate consistency and pursue a fair investigation of the case,
– protect the rights and guarantees of a person stipulated by the Constitution.