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Armenian Prosecutor General Justifies Police Use of Force at the Parliament

Before labeling the force used by police officers against the mothers of soldiers who died under non-combat conditions in the Armenian army as “atrocities,” one should ask whether the parents absolutely had to hold their protest action [in front of the Residence of the RA President], and whether the action would not impede the normal work of the president's office, Prosecutor General of Armenia, Gevorg Kostanyan, said at the National Assembly on Wednesday, May 20, answering opposition MP Aram Manukyan's question concerning the police officers' behavior.

“In fact, an opinion has been formed in our society that police use of force is a crime in itself. That is not true. In our country, as well as in the whole world, the police is one of the few structures that has a legal mandate to use force. The proportionality of the force is a different issue,” Kostanyan said. 

According to the law, the Prosecutor General added, the police has the right to use force if all other measures to establish order have failed. “There are situations where not using force would lead to legal proceedings against the police officers. We are not dealing with an absolute right of citizens to hold a protest when and where they wish,” Kostanyan said. 

The Prosecutor General stated if Aram Manukyan had evidence that the force used by the police against the parents was disproportionate, the MP should present it. According to Kostanyan, he has met with the mothers and promised their sons' cases would be resolved. 

“You might not be able to see any developments, since, in the interest of the investigation, we do not think there is a need or a necessity to speak,” the official said. 

Note, Armenian police officers have used violence on several occasion against the parents of soldiers who died in the Armenian army in non-combat conditions. The parents have been organizing protest actions in front of the presidential palace demanding a meeting with Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan, and a fair investigation into their sons' deaths.