YEREVAN — Both before and after the adoption of a new law in late 2017 on the prevention of domestic violence and the protection of the victims, the Armenian Bar Association has had a deep-seated devotion to the realization of human and civil rights which had been compromised for too long in Armenia.  The Bar’s commitment extends to working with women’s groups, including offering training programs led by police officers, legal professionals and judges to help educate Armenia’s citizens and, ultimately, to help implement the new law.

In June, 2018, during its Annual Meeting in Artsakh and Armenia, the Armenian Bar collaborated with the Women’s Support Center in Armenia (WSC) and the Glendale Police Department to offer such training.  The City of Glendale sponsored Detective Vahe Abramyan, a ten-year veteran of the Glendale Police Department, who since 2011 has served the municipality as a peace officer in the Violent Crimes – Assaults Unit, where he investigates crimes against persons, internet crimes against children, and domestic violence.

A key participant in the domestic violence training program, which took place in WSC’s Yerevan offices, was Judge Amy Ashvanian of the California Superior Court, County of Los Angeles, who offered an insightful and informative judicial perspective. Prior to her recent appointment to the bench, Judge Ashvanian was a deputy district attorney in the Hard Core Gang Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, where she specialized in the prosecution of extremely violent, criminal street gangs.

The new law on domestic violence did not come without its reported drawbacks.  The bill, entitled “Prevention of Domestic Violence, Protection of Domestic Violence Victims and Restoration of Solidarity in the Family,” was criticized because the law, instead of being a preventive and protective tool, was purportedly more a mechanism for something called “family reconciliation” between abusers and survivors.  Women’s rights organizations and domestic violence survivors, who had worked on the passage of the law since 2007, attributed the passage of the bill to the quid pro quo of an €11m grant made under the European Commission’s Human Rights Budget Support Program to the Armenian government conditioned on the adoption of a stand-alone law on domestic violence.

Domestic violence remains a prevalent problem for Armenian society. “The Armenian Bar Association will endeavor to bring true realization and tangible results to the purpose underlying the legislation, and that is to provide real protection, real security, and a real and dignified future to all victims of domestic violence,” added Lucy Varpetian, Co-Vice Chairperson of the Armenian Bar Association.

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