Forensics Workshop for Public Defenders held in Armenia

July 2010

In late June, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) hosted a workshop to better acquaint Armenian public defenders with the intricacies of forensic examination. The training, which emphasized narcotics and motor vehicle accident cases, was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Twenty-four public defenders from Dilijan, Gyumri, Idzevan, Vanadzor and Yerevan took part in the training.

The event featured two local experts, Yura Avetisyan, deputy director of the National Bureau of Forensic Examination, who covered drug-related cases, and Arshak Harutyunyan, from the Ministry of Justice’s Expertise Center, who discussed motor vehicle cases.

Avetsiyan’s presentation covered the types of drugs commonly sold and distributed in Armenia, their sources, and how to measure and evaluate them. He also explained some of the effects that drug use could have on a case, including the questionable validity of a drug user’s testimony. During his presentation on motor vehicle cases, Harutyunyan discussed expert examination of the scene, the importance of accurate measurements of the accident scene and how these elements may affect an advocate’s case. He also stressed the importance of filing motions to ask investigators to appoint experts for accident scene examination, rather than relying on less specialized investigators, who may make mistakes or draw inaccurate conclusions from an accident.

Overall, the training successfully brought together public defenders to learn about important topics relevant to their work, and the feedback from participants was positive. ABA ROLI plans to continue its work with public defenders on expert witnesses and expert testimony.

To learn more about the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s work in Armenia, contact rol@staff.abanet.org.

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