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‘Rates’ in Armenian Prisons Rising, While Issues Remain Unresolved, Report Says

According to a study conducted by the Armenian Prison Monitoring Group, corruption in the country’s penitentiaries has increased significantly over the past few years. In their recently published 2016 report, the Group say “the rates” for various “services” have risen considerably; a month’s stay at the infirmary, for example, used to cost prisoners 50-60 drams in 2013; in 2016, meanwhile, prisoners were giving a 90-thousand bribe for the same “service.” The price for being transferred to a civilian hospital has risen to 200-250 dollars. The “rates” for illegally entering mobile phones into prisons have also increased: this service used to cost 5-10 thousand drams in 2013, while in 2016 the price stood at 30-50 thousand drams.

“Rates” have also increased for prisoners’ relatives: in 2013, they had to pay 10-30 thousand drams to pass food, cigarettes and clean clothes to their relatives in prisons and 30-80 thousand in 2016. Along with these packs, which prisoners receive these packs 2-4 times a month, they are also get cash, 10 percent of which goes to a prisoner officer.

“The respondents said these payments help soften the officers’ treatment towards prisoners; the money also ensures that their relatives will enjoy the privilege of an extra shower or a walk in the yard, and a less thorough search,” the report says.

In most other respects, prison issues have remained essentially the same: overcrowdedness, low-quality food, lack of necessary medication.