“Free of Charge does not mean Low Quality.” The New Head of Public Defender’s Office

Identification of problems, needs assessment, technical renovation and development of the regional offices, these are the objectives with which the new Head of Public Defender’s Office, advocate Melanya Arustamyan begins her activities. She assumed this position on 3 February. What gaps exists there and what solutions does Ms Arustamyan suggest. Details in the interview.

Ms Arustamyan, please take our congratulations first. The first question is “What are the priorities you start your work with?”

14231499981809-440x293First, to inform the public all over the country about free legal assistance. Second, implement technical saturation of the regional offices, enhance the quality of work. If the attorney’s service is free of charge, does not mean it should not be qualified. Also, we should assess the situation; develop a strategy through raising the problems. In the first two months will be a period of study in order to talk with the public defenders in provinces, visit the regions, clarify the issues and assess needs. The Public Defender’s Office is overloaded by the work, and under the circumstance of such overload we need to provide qualified protection. Today we have quite a lot of beneficiaries whose rights must be protected and have the public defender’s office with a limited number of employees.

Please tell what developments the Public Defender’s Institute had in the recent years.

DSC09707-copy-440x293As a member of the board of the Chamber I constantly participate in adoption of regulations, documentation and reports regarding the office. Of course, there is development, we just aim to activate the work and eliminate all problems.

Does the public confidence towards the Public Defender’s Office increase or gradually decrease?:

I do not have any monitoring data just at this moment, however, in any case, my intention is to record the increase of the confidence rather than its decrease. I think when we are able to deliver better quality of service, confidence in itself will increase. I am going to be very consistent, so the quality is higher. I’m going to be careful towards the rumors circulating about the facts that the office employee provides paid services. In such case, I shall be very strict.

I am aware that currently you have free of charge cases. 

Yes, I have to say that I worked on free of charge basis. Even if there were paid cases, they were with the really low salary. There is enthusiasm among the staff that they can discuss with me and find solutions. Anyway, I shall contribute my experience and knowledge for the development of the Public Defender’s Office.

Interview: Gevorg Tosunyan


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