During the 21st and 25th of October 2013, the Romanian Probation Department hosted the study visit of a delegation of five judicial system representatives from Armenia, event which was possible with the support of Council of Europe, within the framework of the project Reducing the use of custodial sentences in line with European standards, financed thanks to the generous voluntary contribution of Norway, through the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Project aims at bringing the Armenian prison system closer to the European Prison Rules and other European Probation Rules and other Recommendations of the Council of Europe and the standards of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and best European practices.

The Project focuses on raising awareness on the effectiveness of alternative sanctions and measures, on the need to extend the use of such sentences and on the importance of establishing a mechanism for supervision of the implementation of non-custodial sentences.

The Armenian authorities’ representatives expressed interest in terms of Romanian probation system, in particularly regarding the establishment of the probation services, the developing stages and good practices in the field, the legal and institutional framework governing the probation activities and in this respect Probation Department contributed with its own expertise.

The delegation was led by Mr. Hayk Khemchyan, Senior Project Officer of Council of Europe and was composed by the Head of Division for Penitentiary Legal Reforms, the Head of the Division for Implementation of Alternative Sanctions, Criminal – Executive Department, a judge from Court of General Jurisdiction, a prosecutor from General Prosecutor’s Office and a chairman from Civil Society Institute.

During the visit, the delegates participated to working meetings and discussions with representatives of probation system, both from central and local level, in order to get acquainted with legal regulations and practice on probation. The debates were related not only to organizing and functioning of Romanian probation system in the present, but also to the new challenges brought by the New Criminal Code and by the New Probation Law for the Romanian probation services. An important issue addressed during the meetings was the involvement and the support of the community institutions and the NGO’s into the rehabilitation of the offenders.

As well, the members of the delegation had the opportunity to meet judiciary representatives (judges, prosecutors, legal advisers, probation counsellors), NGO’s and prison services representatives, and to visit National Prison Administration, The Romanian Group for the Defence of Human Rights, a probation service and two courts. Within these meetings, the discussions were focused on the cooperation between probation services, judiciary institutions and other stakeholders involved in the social reintegration of offenders.

In such circumstances, the delegates acquainted the probation activities and obtained a complete view of the Romanian probation system.

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