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Armenia - annual report 2018

Published: July 10, 2019
Further training seminar for the Special Investigation Service on investigation methods in cases of corruption, embezzlement and such like in Tsaghkadzor, attended by Public Prosecutor Karin Schreitter-Skvortsov, Director of the Special Investigation Service in the Republic of Armenia Sasun Khachatryan, and the Deputy Director (retired) of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Münster, Günter Rüter
Further training seminar for the Special Investigation Service on investigation methods in cases of corruption, embezzlement and such like in Tsaghkadzor, attended by Public Prosecutor Karin Schreitter-Skvortsov, Director of the Special Investigation Service in the Republic of Armenia Sasun Khachatryan, and the Deputy Director (retired) of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Münster, Günter Rüter

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

Armenia was gripped by profound transformation during the reporting year. The sweeping constitutional amendment decided by a referendum in late 2015 includes a switch from a presidential to a parliamentary system, meaning a transfer of executive power from the president to the head of government and the vesting of greater competencies in parliament itself. In contrast, largely representative tasks remain with the president. The new President Armen Sarkissian was elected by the National Assembly on 2 March 2018, and entered office on 9 April 2018.

His predecessor, the long-serving State President Serzh Sargsyan, was appointed Prime Minister on 17 April 2018, although just beforehand he had ruled out the possibility of standing for the office of Prime Minister after the constitutional reform. His election as Prime Minister triggered mass demonstrations and strikes that lasted days and that extended to members of the armed forces. This peaceful protest movement is considered the largest to have affected Armenia since the 1980s. Under pressure from these demonstrations, Serzh Sargsyan resigned as head of government on 23 April 2018, and the leader of the opposition movement, Nikol Pashinyan, was elected by Parliament as the new Prime Minister on 8 May. Since then, this peaceful transition of power has been known in Armenia as the Velvet Revolution. The new head of government has promised the people in particular to shed light on corruption and to introduce policies to combat corruption, as well as to improve the general economic situation. New parliamentary elections were held on 10 December 2018 to legitimise the government. Taking 70.2 percent of the vote, the My Step Alliance under Nikol Pashinyan secured an absolute majority, although the turnout was just 49 percent and therefore unexpectedly low.

Overall Concept

Criminal law remains the main priority of the IRZ‘s cooperation in Armenia. It has not been possible to complete the counselling on a completely new Penitentiary Code so far, as the aforementioned political turmoil in the country effectively brought the work on all legislative projects to a standstill.

Aside from this legal reform, the penitentiary system in Armenia is also in need of reform as a matter of urgency. Therefore, building on earlier advice, events were held at selected penitentiaries to develop tailored overall concepts for individual sentence planning, for the creation of work opportunities or the provision of medical care. These efforts should be continued and intensified.

In addition to issues of criminal law, the IRZ has also accepted a mandate to advise the Civil Act Registration Agency at the Armenian Ministry of Justice on the new law to implement the Hague Convention on Child Abduction (HCCA), which is expected to be ratified soon. In addition to the Ministry of Justice, the other partners in this cooperation are the Court of Cassation, the Academy of Justice, the Chamber of Advocates, the School of Advocates, the Chamber of Notaries, the Penitentiary Department and the Armenian Special Investigation Service, as well as the Yerevan State University.

Foci of Activity in 2018

Civil and Commercial Law

Administration of Justice

Criminal and Penitentiary Law

Basic and Further Training

Outlook

The reform of the Penitentiary Code and its practical application will remain an important issue in cooperation with the Armenian Ministry of Justice in 2019. Within the field of the penitentiary system, there are plans to continue and intensify the counselling provided in individual penitentiaries. Technical counselling for the recently introduced probation service will also continue. Support for the Yerevan State University will be expanded to include comprehensive advice on the introduction of case-based teaching methodologies and the development of case materials for a greater practical orientation in teaching.