- Published: June 1, 2018
Legal Policy Situation
In April 2017, parliamentary elections were held in the Republic of Armenia. These were the first elections after the constitutional reform of 2015, which comprised the transition from a presidential system to a parliamentary system. The Republican Party emerged as the clear winner from the elections, which displayed some irregularities according to international election observers. The State President, whose term of office ends in April 2018, is also a member of this party. Since the constitutional reform has also transferred the executive power from the president to the head of government, the opposition is apprehensive of the current president changing his office to that of head of government. The President has denied these speculations, however.
The elections were held exactly one year after the resurgence of the bloody fights in Nagorno-Karabakh lasting several days in April 2016. Since then, the conflict has been frozen once again, without any sign of a diplomatic solution. This conflict continues to have an impact on the economic situation and the overall development of Armenia. It is also for this reason that the country is very much oriented towards Russia as a protective power, which it already depends on in terms of energy and economic policy.
At the same time, Armenia is maintaining its cooperation with the European Union. It is a member of the Eastern Partnership of the EU and signed a Comprehensive and Advanced Partnership Agreement with the EU at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels in November of the year under review. This replaces an association agreement with the hope of bringing about rapprochement in terms of trade relations, product safety and consumer protection as well as support for civil society. Additionally, the country benefits from EU programmes on judicial reforms with a current focus on structural problems in the judiciary and criminal law.
Criminal law continues to be the focal point of the IRZ’s cooperation with Armenia. In addition to ongoing consultations on a fundamentally new penitentiary code, the specialist events mainly address the question of how specific regulations, e.g. with regard to handing down sentences or to the fight against money laundering, can be implemented in Armenian legal practice in accordance with international standards. This also applies to the implementation of the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, which was the subject of close collaboration with the Civil Act Registration Agency at the Ministry of Justice.
In relation to current reforms in the judicial administration, contacts with the Court of Cassation and the Armenian Judges’ Association were also intensified.
Besides the Ministry of Justice, the cooperation partners comprise the Court of Cassation, the Judicial Academy, the Chamber of Advocates, the School of Advocates, the Armenian Chamber of Notaries and the Correctional Department and the Armenian Investigation Service, as well as the Yerevan State University.
Foci of Activity 2017
Civil and Commercial Law
- Expert report on a reform draft law to implement the Hague Convention on Child Abduction (HCCA) in Armenia
- Working visit by a delegation of the Armenian Ministry of Justice on the implementation of the HCCA in Bonn, Hamm and The Hague
- Participation by a member of staff of the Armenian Ministry of Justice in the “Summer School on Intellectual Property” at the University of Bonn
Administration of Justice
- Working visit by the President of the Court of Cassation and his delegation on questions regarding jusdicial administration, independence of the judges and the compensation of moral damage in Berlin and Karlsruhe
- Seminar for the Armenian Chamber of Notaries on questions of their day-to-day professional practice in cooperation with the Federal Chamber of Notaries in Tzaghkadzor/Armenia
- Further training on rules governing the legal profession for Armenian lawyers in Yerevan
- Attendance by two representatives of the Armenian Judges’ Association of the international conference of the Memorandum Group of Judges’ Associations in Tbilisi/Georgia, (see Multilateral p. 129)
Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law
- Continued support of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia in preparing a draft of the new Penitentiary Code
- Guest lecture on the topic of “Handing down sentences” at the State University of Yerevan
- Seminars on handing down sentences for the judges and the Public Prosecutor’s Office in collaboration with the Judicial Academy of Armenia in Yerevan
- Support in implementing reforms in the penitentiary system: kick-off seminar for prison guard officers on practical questions in regard to international standards in the penitentiary system in Tzaghkadzor/ Armenia
- Support of the Department of “Probation” of the State University of Yerevan in the revision of the curriculum: internship for an Armenian lecturer at the Alice Salomon Hochschule in Berlin
- Further training for the Special Investigation Service on investigating cases of money laundering in Aghveran/Armenia
Basic and Further Training
- Participation by two Armenian lawyers in the IRZ’s summer school “German law” in Bonn
- Moot court in criminal law addressing all students of all universities nationwide, participation by 24 students from six universities in the final round in Aghveran/Armenia
An important topic in the cooperation with the Ministry of Justice in 2018 will be the reform of the Penitentiary Code and the law on applying the Hague Convention on Child Abduction in Armenia, the implementation of which is to be accompanied closely. Regarding the penitentiary system, specific consultations are planned in individual prisons as well. Specialist advice on the recently introduced probation service is also being considered. In addition, the collaboration with all other partner institutions will be continued and intensified in the form of seminars and training courses.