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Corrupted System Leads to Inadequate Care at Psychiatric Hospitals In Armenia

Juleta Amarikyan, a woman who underwent one month of compulsory psychiatric treatment, has been referred for another psychological testing within the framework of a criminal investigation initiated based on her complaint. The second evaluation is to be provided by the same psychiatrist who diagnosed Amarikyan to have mental health problems three years ago. 

Recall, during the course of investigation Amarikyan insisted that she didn't have mental health problems and she was taken to the psychiatric facility because of a dispute with her brother regarding her apartment. The court decision based on which Amarikyan was transferred to a psychiatric facility has since been overturned in the RA Court of Appeal. After she was discharged from the psychiatric facility, the woman applied to the Special Investigation Service (SIS) to initiate a criminal case with the demand of holding the judge, psychiatric facility staff, and police accountable for their actions.

During a press conference held on Wednesday, April 15, Amarikyan's lawyer Tigran Hayrapetyan said that he had filed a motion to disqualify the expert and to assign the psychological evaluation of his client to another psychiatrist. “How can the expert who provided the first evaluation three years ago refute his conclusion today? Especially since he is now the chairman of the expert committee, and the rest of the members are indirectly connected with him. The investigator, however, has denied our motion, so we have filed a motion to disqualify the investigator. The second motion has not been considered by the prosecutor yet,” the defense attorney said. 

The RA legislation, as stated by Hayrapetyan, gives unlimited powers to psychiatrists: “If a psychiatrist can give a person an evaluation, which can completely change a person's fate, and if a psychiatrist is not subject to any kind of supervision, then it leads to the creation of a corrupted system,” he added. 

Head of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor office Artur Sakunts, who also represents Amarikyan's interests, said during the press conference that the psychiatric facility has filed a lawsuit against their organization and Juleta Sargsyan, demanding compensation for the harm caused to their reputation.

Tigran Hayrapetyan said that the facility had initially filed a complaint to instigate criminal proceedings, which was, however, denied.

“Now they have filed a civil suit. If the psychiatric facility itself acknowledges that Juleta Amarikyan is not aware of the nature of her actions, how do they go to court demanding 300 thousand drams from their patient? Thus, we can see how our mental hospitals care for their patients,” Hayrapetyan concluded.