ECHR verdict against Armenia
Susanna Petrosyan, Yerevan. Exclusively to VK
During June the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has made three verdicts against Armenia. One of them touched on the action of the former political prisoner, participant of the Karabakh war, representative of the opposition Armenian National Congress, Vardan Malkhasyan. He was arrested in December 2006 and sent to prison for 3 years for committing the crime required by article 301 of Criminal Code of Armenia – “a public call for violent change of the constitutional system.” ECHR stated that Malkhasyan had been kept in custody from December 9, 2006, to sentencing for 8 months. That is a violation of the fifth article of the European Human Rights Convention which requires freedom and personal security. The court charged Armenia to pay 4.5 thousand euro compestion to Malkhasyan.
The second verdict of ECHR is about the action of Alaverdi’s resident, Kamo Piruzyan who was kept in custody for suspicion of life attempt for more than a year and then the court declared him not guilty. Piruzyan’s claim states that during the nine-month legal procedure he had been kept in a ward with metal grating which is qualified as humiliating treatment by the court. The action also mentions violation of the defendant’s right for going at large against guarantees and illegal custody. ECHR satisfied the action stating that the fifth article was violated. The court charged Armenia to pay 8 thousand euro compensation to Piruzyan,
The third verdict of ECHR relates to the case of Ararat Muradkhanian who was sentenced for life term and now spends it in the penal facility of Nubarashen. According to the ECHR verdict, the fifth article of the convention was violated: the life sentenced prisoner was illegally kept in custody in 2004-2007. Armenia has to pay 6 thousand euro compensation to Muradkhanyan.
“The authorities of Armenia are working against themselves, against their state and their people. And it is a fact. We file lawsuits not against courts, but against the Republic of Armenia. Compensations are paid from the budget, and the money is our, money of taxpayers. People suffer from injustice in the country,” Vardan Malkhasyan says. “Courts are functioning as power’s adjunct, and political cases are considered under guidelines of the presidential administration.” He believes that judges who made such big mistakes should be brought to responsibility.
The same opinion is shared by members of the Lawyers Chamber of Armenia. According to its member Lusine Saakian, the verdicts by ECHR on Piruzyan, Malkhasyan, and Muradkhan cases against Armenia make us think about the fact that courts do not provide justice.
At the same time, the Minister of Justice, Grair Tovmasian, stated that these cases relate to 2003-2006, but they have been considered only now: “The reason for Armenian losing the cases is not judges’ mistakes, but contradictions between the laws operated in our country at that moment and the European standards. Now some norms of the European conventions have changed and become stricter.” Now responsibility of each judge is under investigation. “We cannot punish judges only for the fact that their verdicts are being litigated. In this case we will lose all judges, as almost all cases are litigated,” the minister noted.
For settlement of these and other problems the Ministry of Justice developed a complex program on court-legal reforms for 2012-2016 aimed at establishing clear mechanisms of officials’ responsibility and elimination of verdicts contradicting each other. The program requires changing approaches of composing the judiciary.
Nevertheless, every lost case by Armenia damages heavily the country’s image, not to mention the image of courts in population eyes.
According to the US Agency of International Development, the majority of Armenia’s population thinks that prosecution is the most corrupted institute; it is followed by courts, the Central Election Commission, and law-enforcement bodies. The least corrupted institutes are non-governmental organizations and civic institutes.