The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Since its independence, Armenia has sought to balance its relationship with the region and closer integration into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions as a way to overcome the inherited legacy of Soviet institutions and practices. Widespread public protests in April-May 2018 known as the velvet revolution called for then-Prime Minister Sargsyan’s resignation and challenged the Armenian government to tackle corruption throughout the government. Following the revolution and transition of government to the leadership of opposition leader and now Prime Minister Pashinyan, the Armenian government has committed considerable effort toward reducing corruption, police reform, and increasing respect for the rule of law and human rights. Improved criminal case tracking, identifying and investigating organized crime and Soviet style criminal justice systems that inhibit information sharing and transparent data management remain vulnerable to corruption and are persistent challenges. Other challenges include a delay in adopting and implementing an improved Criminal Procedure Code and the ongoing cross-border tensions that impede more effective sub-regional cooperation.
INL supports the United States’ priorities of tackling transnational organized crime and corruption, countering external malign influence, and building a transparent and accountable justice system that fosters regional stability and protects U.S. security at home and abroad. By addressing the root causes of instability, including those that arise from weak institutions, corruption, and a lack of economic opportunity, programs will promote accountability, transparency and a consistent application of the law which improves the business-enabling environment, inhibits corruption, and reduces the barriers to entry and other limitations to fair competition. INL is focused on sustained, multi-year effort reforms dedicated to improving and strengthening the criminal justice system to prevent, investigate, and successfully prosecute domestic and transnational crimes so that Armenia continues to be a safe and thriving environment for Armenian-American business opportunities as well as contributing to regional stability. INL programs assist the Government of Armenia’s efforts to modernize its law enforcement and corrections institutions, curb corruption, and improve respect for human rights and the rule of law. INL seeks to reduce corruption risks in the management and processing of criminal cases and court cases by making them more transparent and accountable. INL strives to continue to build law enforcement’s skill in identifying and professionally handling Trafficking in Person (TIP) cases, improving the media’s reporting of TIP cases, and improving the public, police and courts’ response.
Additional goals include: supporting Armenia’s efforts to create a probation service that will advance the legitimacy of the entire judicial system and overall democratic reforms; promoting alternatives to pretrial detention; improving criminal justice interagency’s ability to accurately capture and track criminal data, including reports of crime and criminal cases being processed through the justice system; improving prosecutorial training and skills development and increasing the independence of the judiciary; supporting policies to combat trafficking of persons and narcotics; and improving law enforcement skill and capacity to appropriately and effectively respond to and manage civil disturbances.
INL continues to implement comprehensive justice sector reforms which include training Armenian prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, investigators, and police. INL has provided exchanges and partnerships between Armenia and various state and local agencies to share skills and best practices. INL assistance has supported Armenia’s efforts to draft a National Action Plan on Anti-Corruption, as well as a Judicial Reform Strategy. INL has also supported the development of an attorney ethics code and standardized complaint mechanism, as well as anti-corruption and human rights curriculum development now being delivered to prosecutors, investigators, and judges.