Protection of Religious Freedom in Criminal Justice Institutions
- Freedom Of Religion in Places Of Deprivation of Liberty
- Sample Forms
Religious freedom is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia and laws on detention of persons.
Certain restrictions on religious freedom apply only to arrested persons.
Religion has a great influence on the formation of a person's moral qualities and, similarly, it has an influence on individuals realizing the mistakes they made and repenting the illegal actions they committed in places of deprivation of liberty, and being reintegrated into society as full members after being released.
People in prison usually find themselves in a difficult moral and psychological state, and religion can have a great psychological impact for getting people out of that state.
In the reintegration of imprisoned individuals into the society, it is crucial that they be in constant contact with the outside world and, taking into account the peculiarities of being imprisoned, keep in touch with the outside world.
Summing up the above, we can state that in the Republic of Armenia, with certain existing restrictions, religious freedom in places intended for deprivation of liberty is enshrined in the legislature.
Freedom Of Religion in Places Of Deprivation of Liberty
The rights of equality before the law and religious freedom guaranteed by the RA Constitution are defined in the RA Penitentiary Code, in the RA Law on Holding Arrested and Detained Persons.
The above-mentioned laws establish equality of conditions and the order of serving a sentence for all arrested, detained, convicted persons, regardless of religion. Detainees and convicts have freedom of religion, which is not restricted in any way.
RA Penitentiary Code
Article 8. Principle of equality of convicts before the law
The procedure and conditions for the execution of a sentence shall extend to all convicts irrespective of sex, race, color, language, religion, political or other opinion, ethnic or social origin, membership to a national minority, birth, property or other status.
Article 12. Rights of a convict
- A convict shall have the right to:
8) freedom of thought, conscience and belief, political or other views.
RA Law on Detention of Arrested and Detained Persons
Article 2. General principles of keeping an arrested person under arrest and a detainee in custody
Keeping an arrested person under arrest or keeping a detainee in detention shall be carried out on the basis of the principles of legality, equality of arrested or detained persons before the law, humanity, human rights, freedoms and dignity in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, the Penitentiary Code and the Criminal Procedure Code of the Republic of Armenia, as well as the well-known principles and norms of international law.
It is prohibited to use physical violence, as well as inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment toward arrested or detained persons.
The procedure and conditions provided for in this law for the arrest of arrested persons or detention of detainees shall apply to all arrested or detained persons, regardless of nationality, race, sex, language, religion, political or other views, social origin, property or other status.
Article 13. Rights of arrested or detained persons
An arrested or detained person has the right to:
8) freedom of thought, conscience and religion, political or other views.
The RA Penitentiary Code and the RA Law on holding arrested and detained persons establish the right to call clergymen in to places of detention, to hold religious rituals, to use objects of worship and religious literature. The management of the place of detention is obliged to take appropriate measures to exercise these rights․
The administration of the correctional facility is also obliged to organize religious events with the support of organizations. There is no such obligation for the administration of places of detention of detained persons, which is essentially due to the difference between the conditions and order of detention of convicted and detained persons.
Religious activities in places of detention of arrested persons are prohibited. In essence, this too stems from the order and conditions of detention of arrested persons. It should be noted that a person cannot be kept in places of detention for more than 72 hours; this restriction has a short duration. However, it should be stated that the restrictions imposed on arrested persons have no objective basis.
RA Penitentiary Code
Article 91. Cultural, religious, enlightenment and athletic activities in correctional institutions
- A priest may be invited to the correctional institution. It shall be permitted to organize religious service, to use objects of worship and religious literature. The administration of the correctional institution shall allocate appropriate space for this purpose.
- The administration of the correctional institution shall, with the support or direct involvement of non-governmental or other organizations, organize educational, cultural, enlightenment, religious and athletic activities.
RA Law on Detention of Arrested and Detained Persons
Article 25. Cultural, religious, enlightenment, educational events in facilities for holding detained and arrested persons
Conditions are created in places for holding detainees so that the latter can manage their free time accordingly. To this end, libraries are also being set up.
Clergymen may be invited to places for holding detainees, and religious rites may be held there. Detainees may use objects of worship and religious literature.
The administration of the place of detention of detained persons creates opportunities for the organization of elementary, part-time general secondary and higher education of convicts, in compliance with the requirements of internal regulations.
No cultural, religious, enlightenment or educational events are held in places for holding arrested persons.
The decision No. 1543-N dated 03.08.2006 of the Government of the Republic of Armenia "On approving the internal regulations of places of detention of detainees, and correctional institutions of the Penitentiary Service of the RA Ministry of Justice" defines the order of detained and convicted persons’ participation in religious rites.
The decision stipulates that religious rites are held in specially designated rooms. The performance of rites should not violate the requirements of the regulation and the rights of other persons. If possible, religious rites may be performed outside of places of detention - in places designated for religious rites (churches, mosques, etc.).
Religious freedom may be restricted only in cases provided by law and it must be based on the protection of public safety, health, morals, and the rights and freedoms of others.
Detained and convicted persons are allowed to keep in their possession religious literature and objects of worship, but the latter should not have the form of piercing or cutting objects, be made of precious metals or stones, or have historical or cultural value. In the case of arrested persons, there is a limit to no more than five items.
Decision No. 1543-N of 03.08.2006 of the Government of the Republic of Armenia "On approving the internal regulations of places of detention of detainees, and correctional institutions of the Penitentiary Service of the RA Ministry of Justice"
- Detained and convicted persons are guaranteed freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Detained persons, as well as convicts serving sentences in a closed or semi-closed correctional facility, usually perform or participate in religious rites in designated rooms. Only the performance of rites that do not violate the requirements of this regulation or the rights of other persons are allowed.
- Detained and convicted persons may, if possible, perform or participate in religious rites at specially designated locations.
- Detained or convicted persons are allowed to possess, receive by delivery, acquire and keep religious literature, objects of religious worship which cannot have the form of piercing and cutting objects, be made of precious metals or stones, or have historical or cultural value.
- Freedom to practice one's religion or belief is subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary for the protection of public safety, health and morals or the rights and freedoms of others.
- The administration of the place of detention of detainees or a correctional facility may organize religious events with the support or direct participation of non-governmental or other organizations.
- A clergyman may be called in to provide religious care to detained or convicted persons at the expense of detainees or convicts, as well as at the initiative of the administration of the place of holding detainees or the correctional facility.
Decision of the Government of the Republic of Armenia of June 5, 2008 N 574-N "On approving the internal regulations of places of detention of arrested persons operating within the RA Police system"
Of foods, items and objects which detainees may keep in their possession or receive by delivery
18) literature (educational, religious, periodical publishing) in not more than five items.
Refusal Of Food Based On Religious Beliefs In Places Of Detention
The RA Penitentiary Code and the RA Law on Keeping Arrested and Detained Persons does not contain special and direct provisions regarding the refusal of a detainee to eat certain food on religious or other grounds, as well as the provision of food to a detainee by the administration in accordance with his or her beliefs.
The right of a detainee to refuse certain foods based on his or her beliefs derives directly from the right to freedom of conscience and religion, and the obligation of the administration to provide the detainee with food in accordance with his or her convictions must derive from its obligation to provide the detainee with food necessary for the normal functioning of the organism in the context of the exercise of the right to freedom of conscience and religion.
Article 25.1 of the European Prison Rules stipulates that the administration of a place where prisoners are kept must take into account the prisoners’ religious and cultural peculiarities in the when it comes to food. Clause 6 of the Minimum Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners also requires respect for the religious beliefs and moral precepts of the group to which a prisoner belongs.
RA Penitentiary Code
Article 76. Food for the convicts
- During the term of serving the sentence, the convict shall be provided with food necessary for regular functioning of his or her organism, the daily average portions thereof shall be established by the Government of the Republic of Armenia.
RA Law on Keeping Arrested and Detained Persons
Article 19. Food for arrested and detained persons, acquisition of food and items of necessity
An arrested or detained person shall be provided with free food sufficient for the maintenance of health and energy, the minimum portions of which shall be established by the Government of the Republic of Armenia.
Reducing the quality and nutritiousness of food from the established minimum portions, including as a means of penalty, is prohibited.