Draft to make amendments in 18th section of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia

The “Women’s Resource Center” has undertaken a draft to make improvements and amendments in articles 138-142 of the 18th section of the Criminal Code of RA (Crimes against sexual immunity and sexual freedom) and has presented it to the legislator. Demands for improvements to the legislation are based on a recent court hearing of a teacher at Nubarashen number 11 special school, as well as on the sudden rise in the number of women addressing the Sexual Assault Crisis Center that functions in conjunction with the Women’s Resource Centre. The draft is being developed in collaboration with the Chamber of Lawyers of RA. During the development of the draft European experience and those of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have been regarded.

The changes in the law are mostly of substantial character; aggravated circumstances will be enclosed in the draft; imprisonment shall be implemented relative to the crime as well as improvements to the augmentation of prison sentences are prescribed.

According to proposals, the intensification of punishment is expected if the following violent sexual acts are performed:

  1. Toward a pregnant woman – in this case the level of public risk is higher and the idea of regarding it as an aggravated circumstance is based on the fact that the criminal is basically infringing upon two values: a. sexual immunity and sexual freedom of a woman; b. normal development of the fetus.
  2. Applying weapons or other items exploited as a weapon – when the criminal uses a weapon or other objects in order to suppress the will of the aggrieved to overcome or to prevent the opposition of the victim whilst implementing criminal acts prescribed by the law can be counted as equivalent of using insurmountable physical force and can be regarded as a factual threat for the life of the victim.
  3. Toward a minor by their parent or guardian, pedagogue or other workers of educational, medical or educative institution – the prescription of aggravated circumstances is conditioned by supplementary responsibilities of the abovementioned persons. By current legislation of RA these persons carry the duty of upbringing and care; therefore such crimes shall be regarded as an aggravated circumstance. Criminals shall be brought to justice by means of imprisonment only. Fines are not a reasonable method of punishment in cases of sexual abuse. If sexual assault is committed by an official, he shall be dismissed.
  4. In disciplinary institutions, custodies, military units, medical institutions – the prescription of this aggravated circumstance is conditioned by the facts that in the abovementioned institutions individuals are deprived from or are partially restricted in freedom of movement, manifestation and expression of will. From this perspective it may be obvious for the criminal that the victim cannot resist, or can be impotent to apprehend the nature of his act which may be conditioned by particular physical or psychological features of the victim, or if the victim is a soldier or is liable in form of imprisonment (or private incarceration) in accordance with order prescribed by law.

Some aggravated circumstances are also included in the draft when sexual abuse and sexual assaults have been committed toward minors, towards two or more individuals, toward the same person repeatedly or by a group of individuals having made predetermined arrangements proir to the assault.

The draft has already been presented to the National Assembly by Deputy Victor Dallakyan. Changes have been acknowledged following the first hearing. Two more hearings are expected whereby the proposed amendments shall be acknowledged and amendments in the law shall be anticipated.

Nvard Margaryan