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The Visit of Experts from Great Britain to National Bureau of Expertises

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From February 30-07, 2016 in the framework of ‘’British Horizons’’ with the support of the British Embassy in Yerevan, Open Society Foundations – Armenia and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, ‘’ Innocence Armenian Project” hosted two British specialists Michael Naughton and Michael O’Brien. Dr Naughton is a Reader in Sociology and Law with a unique split role between the Law School and the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS). He is a renowned academic expert on the causes and remedies of miscarriages of justice, with a particular focus of his research and wider activities on issues pertaining to the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of the factually innocent.

Dr. Michael Naughton, the founder of the Innocence Network, helped a lot of wrongfully convicted prisoners. Michael O’Brien was one of the victims of miscarriages of justice. In 1987 he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder he hadn’t committed where he spent 11 years. After his freedom he became a solicitor. Now his experience and knowledge help many victims of judicial miscarriages.

On February 2, 2016 Dr. Michael Naughton and Michael O’Brien visited the National Bureau of Expertises. The Armenian and British specialists held a discussion led by the Director of the organization Artashes Javadyan. The guests were introduced to the activities of the National Bureau of Expertises, they visited a number of departments of the Bureau, including Firearm, traceologial, toxicological, physical technical examinations and chemical expertises departments. They also visited the newly created DNA Identification department, where the guests discussed the possibility of creating databases, which are essential for preservation of genetic samples of suspects and defendants, as well as to prevent possible miscarriages of justice. They also visited the Scientific Research Center of Applied problems in Criminology of our organization and got acquainted with its multi scientific and practical activities. In the Center important issues related to the review of cases of innocent, the importance of preservation of evidence and the inadmissibility of their destruction after the imposition of sentence were discussed.

The British guests emphasized that the reason for the revision of the majority court cases are preserved evidence, experimental samples, including genetic samples that through years, in terms of development of modern sciences, after repeated studies provide an opportunity to prove the innocence of many prisoners and detect the real criminals. Previously it was not possible for both objective and subjective reasons.

During the visit the guests gave as a present Michael O’Brien’s three books.

Accordingly, the delegation from Great Britain got a general impression of the activities of leading forensic organizations of the Republic of Armenia.

It is important to note that on 3 February 2016, a Round table was organized in Congress hotel with the participation of the British guests which was attended by the representatives from National Bureau of Expertises headed by Director Artashes Javadyan.

Finally, during the meeting an agreement was reached on the establishment of the preconditions for the development of joint programs to further mutually beneficial cooperation, that will definitely strengthen the justice system in the Republic of Armenia.

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