EAP CSF ARMENIAN NATIONAL PLATFORM STATEMENT on the Necessity of Radical Changes in the Judicial System of Armenia

The Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF ANP) expresses its deep concern with regard to the crisis over the RA Constitutional Court (CC). Without commenting on the well-known contradictions in the statements of the newly elected judge Vahe Grigoryan and members of the Court, we state the following.

 For many years, the Armenian judiciary, including the Constitutional Court, has not enjoyed public trust, has failed to meet the standards of independent, impartial and authoritative judicial power free from political and party influence, having served for years as a key instrument for state capture in the hands of the executive and the ruling political force. This role of the Constitutional Court has been manifested especially in the disputes related to national elections and referendums, when this high Court was unable to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia.

The constitutional amendments adopted by the December 2015 referendum, along with all the traditional issues related to legitimacy, were fairly perceived by the public as an attempt to perpetuate the vicious system formed by the ruling elite. One of the main reasons for today’s crisis was the fact that the Republican majority, violating the principles and regulations guaranteeing the autonomy and freedom from political influence for the Constitutional Court as envisaged by the 2015 Constitution, appointed their party member Hrayr Tovmasyan as a CC member on March 2, 2018 and CC President on March 23, 2018, thus distorting the content of the provisions on the formation of the Constitutional Court enshrined in Chapter 7 of the Constitution. 

As a result of the political developments of 2018, Armenia entered a crucial phase with the aim of transition from authoritarian to democratic system. In the first two stages of this transitional period, first the executive and then the legislature were formed under the pressure and through the vote of the people. Naturally, the next stage envisages legitimization of the judiciary, freeing the third power from corruption and elimination of the status of servant of the political and economic interests of the former regime.

The crisis can not be resolved by any other procedure than a consensus among the relevant bodies responsible for the execution of the Constitution.

The EaP CSF Armenian National Platform hereby calls on:

  • the RA National Assembly, RA President, RA Government, RA General Assembly of Judges, the judges and members of the RA Constitutional Court to immediately initiate a consultation process and to undertake vigorous and substantial steps with a view to urgently resolve the constitutional crisis;
  • the members of the Constitutional Court to approach the issue based not on narrow personal or group interests, but through recognizing the necessity to restore the legitimacy and reputation of the Constitutional Court and abide by the law, attaching importance to public sentiments, thus creating an opportunity for the implementation of democratic reforms occurring in Armenia;
  • we also urge them to exclude the adoption of decisions on behalf of the Constitutional Court until the termination of the above-mentioned consultation process to prevent their legality from becoming disputable and not to deepen the crisis;
  • all the international structures to take into consideration the uniqueness of the problem in terms of Armenia’s sovereignty and the imperative of its settlement in a constructive way; 
  • the RA authorities, political forces, civil society organizations, expert community immediately upon overcoming the crisis to initiate broad consultations on launching a process of constitutional reform fundamental for the exclusion of such critical situations in the future and the democratization and strengthening of state institutions.     

                                                                                                                                                                                                         July 5, 2019