The judiciary has been a priority area for ELA since 2014. ELA believes that recruiting professional cadres to the Armenian judiciary will greatly enhance the independence and impartiality of the courts.
With this in mind since 2014 ELA has regularly monitored the process of selection and appointment of the candidates for judges to the Armenian courts. The selection process was administered in two stages. Applicants for the position of candidates for judges had to first submit an application package, including a CV. Following this, they would undergo a written test administered by the Judicial Department. Once successful with the test the applicants would then be invited to interviews before the former Council of Justice. The process was, however, quite problematic as there were no objective criteria for assessing the qualities of applicants neither during the written testing stage nor the stage of interviews. The members of the Council of Justice would often ask questions which were discriminatory to women and sometimes even injurious to human dignity.
ELA’s observers were normally barred from access to full application packages, the results of tests and the evaluation results to the extent that ELA would challenge the authorities in charge in the courts in protection of the organisation’s right to seek and impart information. Given the total dependence of the domestic courts on the Council of Justice it was not possible to have the domestic administrative court grant ELA’s complaints. ELA had to resort to the Constitutional Court, which granted ELA’s application and declared the relevant legislative provisions barring observers’ access to the relevant tendering documentation unconstitutional.
ELA was the first non-governmental organisation in the Council of Europe area to monitor the contest for the selection of the candidates for the judge to the European Court of Human Rights (also the ECtHR). The contest was held in autumn of 2014. ELA’s observers monitored the process and ELA published a report reflecting the findings of the organisation’s monitoring efforts. The report was also shared with the relevant stakeholders, including from the Council of Europe. Taking note of inter aliaELA’s findings the Armenian President had to annul the results of the first contest in January 2015 and announce about holding of a second contest. ELA monitored the second contest as well and drew up two more reports, which were disseminated to the relevant stakeholders, including from the Council of Europe. ELA’s efforts prevented one unqualified candidate from being included in the list of the three candidates recommended to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
In 2018 ELA continued to oversee the process of nomination and election by the Armenian parliament of candidates to highest judicial positions in the RA Constitutional Court and the RA Cassation Court. By virtue of ELA’s endeavours two unqualified candidates were prevented from being elected as judges to the Armenian Constitutional Court by the Armenian parliament. In addition to this, ELA successfully mobilised civil society and professional lawyers and called on the President of Armenia to nominate a candidate for the judge at the RA Constitutional Court through a consultative process having solicited the professional opinions of the relevant legal practitioners and academics.
ELA will continue monitoring the processes of election to the judicial positions in Armenia considering the fact that without adequate and competent public oversight it will be impossible to have a merit-based recruitment process, which is essential if the Armenian judiciary is to be transformed into a truly independent and professional branch of power.
For more information on the findings of the previous monitoring efforts see the relevant reports in the section Thematic Reports.