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II. Surveillance policy

Communications surveillance

The grounds and procedure for conducting searches are also determined by the Criminal Procedure Code. Pursuant to article 225 of the Code the investigator, having sufficient grounds to suspect that in some premises or in possession of a person, there are instruments of crime, articles and valuables acquired by criminal activity, as well as other items or documents, which can be significant for the case, conducts a search. The search can also be conducted to find missing or presumed dead persons. The search is conducted only by a court decree.1

Although judges may only authorize authorities to wiretap a telephone or intercept correspondence after being presented with compelling evidence, some judges arbitrarily granted permission. Also, police sometimes maintained surveillance of draft-aged men to prevent them from fleeing the country.2

The examination of correspondence, post, telegraph and other transmissions may be implemented only by the order, determined by law.3 When there are sufficient grounds to believe that there is valuable data in the mail or other correspondence, telegrams and other communications (referred to below as correspondence) sent by the suspect or the accused, or to them by other persons, the investigator can make a grounded decision to impose monitoring on the correspondence of these people.4

When revealing documents and items that can be significant for the case, the investigator seizes the appropriate articles or confines himself to copying them. In case of absence of data that can be significant for the case, the investigator instructs whether to hand the examined correspondence to the addressee or to withhold it within the established period.5

On the basis of a court decree supervision may be conducted over telephone conversations. If there are sufficient grounds to suspect that the telephone conversations of the suspect or the accused or the conversations conducted by other means of communication can contain significant information for the case, the court decides to permit the supervision and recording of these conversations.

In case of approval by the judge, the conversation supervision and recording decision is forwarded by the investigator to the appropriate institution for implementation. Conversation supervision and recording can be conducted for no longer than six months. They are canceled when the necessity for them expires, but in any case, are canceled no later than the end of the preliminary investigation.

The investigator is entitled to demand the record at any time for examination within the established period. The record is handed to the investigator in the sealed form with an accompanying letter that must indicate the beginning and the end of the recorded conversations, and necessary technical description the devices used during the interception. Examination of records by the investigator is done in the presence of attesting witnesses, and when necessary, experts. There is a protocol made about the examination, which must literally reproduce the part of the conversation concerning the case.6

There were several reports of government surveillance of opposition Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovhannesian. The party also reported that its members were harassed and threatened. On March 4, 2004, the Ministry of Justice's Department of State Property Management, armed with a court order, evicted the opposition Heritage Party from its offices, ostensibly over a lease dispute. When the party staff was allowed to return temporarily on May 29, 2006, they reported that their central computer had been hacked during their absence. Party officials reported instances of harassment of party members throughout the country after the incident took place and attributed them to the hacking of the computer, which contained addresses and telephone numbers of party members.7