On December 12 2019, women’s rights defender, Communications officer of the Coalition to Stop Violence against Women, Zara Hovhannisyan decried on her Facebook page, the malicious inaction of the Investigative Committee’s local office in Artik, Shirak region, where the victim of domestic violence, a beneficiary of the Women’s Support Center who received a shelter at the Center was abducted by her former husband, husband’s brother and adult son after the face to face interrogation over her domestic violence report. She was forcefully kidnapped in front of the investigators, who made no efforts to stop the violence from happening.
The Women’s Support Center’s staff, including the beneficiary woman’s lawyer, the Human Rights Defender’s office reported to the police, who shortly after found the woman and initiated a new investigation and ordered forensic examinatin of the bruises the woman received during her kidnapping.
In the meanwhile, the Yerevan office of the Investigative Committee, only a few hours after Zara Hovhannisyan’s post on December 12, released a statement, by which it stated that no case of abducation was in place, in reality the women willfully wished to visit her son and went to visit him. The son in the matter is an adult man who actively writes in social media that the information about the woman’s reported suffering as a result of domestic violence was a lie and she was only visiting him (a participant of the abduction).
In a press conference on December 16 2019, representatives of the Women’s Support Center and the Ombudsmen’s office criticized the practices of the Investigative Committee and shed light on the details of the incident.
Artik department of the Investigative Committee’s investigators did not inform victim A.M. that she was invited for a face to face interrogation with her abuser husband, instead, A.M. together with lawyers from the Women’s Support Center traveled to Artik to provide information necessary for the investigation. By virtue of good conduct and legal requirements, investigators are obliged to protect claimants, especially victims of domestic violence not only from any act of violence but also from instances of double victimization. At the press conference, social worker Ruzanna Aslikyan said, that the investigators neglected their request to provide police escort, as they already felt that the former husband of their beneficiary and his relatives were waiting at the exit of the building. A.M. was snatched, lifted from the ground, hit and forcefully put in a car, and carried away. Anna Hakobyan, expert on Criminal Justice at the Human Rights Defender’s office presented data on similar cases, when the investigative bodies do not carry out their obligation of ensuring the safety of claimants and victims of crimes.
On December 16, 2019, the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women issued an open letter to the Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan; Minister of Social Issues, Zaruhi Batoyan; Chairperson of the Committee on Women’s Issues, Tigran Avinyan; Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Human Rights of the National Assembly, Naira Zohrabyan; Human Rights Defender, Arman Tatoyan. The Coalition demanded a full investigation of the inactions of the investigators and distortion of the facts by the Investigative Committee.