A recent decision by Armenia’s highest court promises to advance the right to equal justice for people with disabilities in Armenia.
In 2015, Artur Hakobyan, a then 18-year-old military conscript reported that a military commander physically abused him on several occasions during his mandatory service. Hakobyan alleges that on one occasion, the commander dragged him by his ear and hit him in the neck when he refused to water trees on the military base. But after hearing the testimony of the commander and other soldiers, the investigator quickly closed the investigation.
Relying on a provision in the criminal procedure code that precludes testimony from persons “not able to perceive correctly and reproduce the circumstances,” investigators and prosecutors dismissed Hakobyan’s testimony because of his psychosocial disability (mental health condition) after doctors had determined he was such a person. His appeals through the lower courts were dismissed on the same grounds.
But now Armenia’s Cassation Court has ruled investigators and courts must hear and consider the testimony of persons with mental health conditions, and they cannot ignore testimony based exclusively on medical examinations of a person’s mental health.
Source: Human Rights Watch
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