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Efforts by prosecutors and law enforcement to address hate crime in Armenia: ODIHR seminar

On 25 May 2021, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) organized an online awareness-raising seminar on improving the ability to recognize, investigate and prosecute hate crimes, involving criminal justice authorities and civil society in Armenia.

The event launched two comprehensive hate crime training programmes, to be implemented in Armenia in the coming years. In close co-operation with the national police, ODIHR will provide Training against Hate Crime for Law Enforcement (TAHCLE). Furthermore, the Armenian Academy of Justice, Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General’s Office have agreed to carry out the Prosecutors and Hate Crimes Training (PAHCT), with ODIHR’s support.

The PAHCT and TACHLE programmes aim to strengthen the knowledge and skills of participants in key areas: preventing and responding to hate crimes, interacting effectively with victims of hate crimes, and helping build public confidence and trust in criminal justice agencies.

“The effective response to hate crime cases requires all chains of the criminal justice system to be trained in recognizing and handling hate crimes,” said Katarzyna Gardapkhadze, First Deputy Director of ODIHR. “To this end, we commend the multi-faceted approach Armenia is taking, by simultaneously training police, investigators and prosecutors, as a critical step to ensuring an effective state response to hate crime.”

In line with the results of an assessment carried out by ODIHR ahead of the seminar, the Office is developing customized training curricula to meet local needs, policies, and legislation. Following this, ODIHR will conduct a number of train-the-trainers sessions with criminal justice authorities. Those trained will be expected to deliver the programmes to pre-selected groups of police officers, investigators and prosecutors.

The Armenian government’s efforts to address hate crime and discrimination are reflected in the recent law on the rights of persons with disabilities. This aims to create a more inclusive society by fighting discrimination and thus ensuring that no one remains marginalized, isolated and invisible. At the same time, the Armenian parliament adopted a new progressive Criminal Code this month that will contribute to the effective prosecution, adjudication and punishment of hate crimes.