Lawyers go on strike in Armenia
A group of Armenian lawyers have gone on strike in protest against ‘illegal security checks and personal searches.’ So far, 138 lawyers have joined the protest.
For several months, the lawyers have been voicing concerns over the fact that they are subjected to personal searches in court and penal institutions.
Armine Fanyan, a lawyer, said that the Special Investigation Service officers tried to search her bag. “They demanded that I open my bag. I refused, saying that I wouldn’t undergo the search, since it wasn’t prescribed by law,” she noted.
“Earlier, no one could have even imagined that a lawyer would be ordered to open a bag,” said another lawyer, Lusine Sahakyan.
The lawyers believe those measures are aimed against their profession, reputation and independence.
The lawyers of the ‘Sasna Tsrer’ group members were the first to report on the personal searches immediately upon the beginning of the cases’ trial.
There are speculations that the lawyers dealing with high-profile, resonant cases are subjected to searches as the searches started on the day of the first trial of the Sasna Tsrer case. It was then that the lawyers defending the Sasna Tsrer group members were subjected to a personal search for the first time.
However, Ara Zohrabyan, the Chairman of the Chamber of Advocates of Armenia, doesn’t think that the procedure that the lawyers have to go through could be considered a personal search. In his words: “It’s not a search, but rather a security check, and the difference is that during the security check, an individual conducting it is not entitled to search you personally, i.e. to open your or search your pockets. If he does it, it will already be a search.”
According to Zohrabyan, if a lawyer opens his/her bag and shows its content, it already fits into the concept of a ‘ security check’. He claims that, under the Judicial Code, the lawyers can be subjected to security checks.