The demand of civil society from the Armenian authorities
An organization, which does not have official access to the procedural, non-public, restricted documents of the Venice Commission, published the protocol part related to the Republic of Armenia, which was presented during the plenary session of the Venice Commission on July 15 of 2019.
According to the highlights of the translated version of the protocol, (…) 1. The RA authorities accepted that the current vetting process is neither necessary nor useful. 3. The wording “judge”-“member” of the Constitution Court was not considered reasonable in Venice Commission. 6. Venice Commission notices the intervention danger towards the current judge mandate of the Constitution Court.
According to the official information published in the website of the Venice Commission, the 119th plenary session of the Commission was held on June 21-22 of 2019.
In a line with the Rules of Procedure of the Venice Commission, only the authorized people have access to the attached documents, including the protocol of the plenary session.
According to the Order of the Venice Commission, the Secretariat is responsible for the elaboration and circulation of the Commission documents. The documents are initially sent to the Commission members, monitors and substitute members.
In a line with Article 8.5 of the Venice Commission Rules of Procedure, the agenda of the Commission’s session shall be adopted at the beginning of each session on the basis of a draft prepared by the Secretariat taking into account possible proposals by members.
According to the Article 9 of the same document, other documents of the Commission are classified as “restricted” or “confidential” and conditioned by the latter a deadline is prescribed when the documents can become public. The documents classified as “restricted” can become public after one year and the “confidential” documents after 10 years respectively.
According to the official information of the Venice Commission as of July 15 of 2019, Gagik Harutyunyan, as the main member of the Supreme Judicial Council, is presented from the Republic of Armenia. Vardan Poghosyan, as the head of the GIZ Armenia Office is presented as a substituted member in Venice Commission. Both representatives are presented by the previous authorities and were members of the Specialized Commission on the Constitution Reforms, in fact, authors of the current RA Constitution.
According to the official information, the high-level delegation of the Council of Europe visited Armenian on May 30-31 of 2019, had meetings with the RA Ministry of Justice, RA Supreme Judicial Council, RA Constitution Court, RA Government, the President of the RA National Assembly.
The issue of the necessity for judicial reforms in Armenia was discussed during all meetings.
According to the available official information, the concept of “vetting” was discussed only with the RA Ministry of Justice, according to which (…) ""The Government considers the vetting as an evaluation procedure, during which the proper balance between public official and the society having an expectation from the vetting process shall be ensured”.
In fact, according to the published official information, agreements related to the “vetting” procedures was not reached in the protocol of the Venice Commission session.
Vahe Grigoryan was elected as a member of the RA Constitution on June 28 of 2019, two weeks after the visit of the high-level delegation of the Council of Europe to Armenia and the 3 days before the session of the Venice Commission.
Vahe Grigoryan sweared as a member of the RA Constitution on June 20 of 2019 and the presented differentiation of the “judge” – “member” words was circulated immediately after it, 1 day before the session of the Venice Commission.
In fact, issues related to the Constitution Court could not be discussed during the visit of the high-level delegation of the Council of Europe to Armenia and could be included in the agenda and protocol of the Venice Commission only upon the recommendation of the Venice Commission Members.
Taking into consideration of the mentioned facts,
We urge the RA authorities:
- To publicize the full information of the discussions with the relevant state agencies during the visit of the Council of Europe high-level delegation to Armenia on May 30-31 of 2019.
- To publicize information about the fact, who presented an agreement on the “vetting” procedure being “not necessary nor useful” in the Republic of Armenia during the 119th Plenary session of the Venice Commission.
- To demand from the Venice Commission information related to the fact, who presented the issue of Constitution Court “member”-“judge” differentiations prescribed by the agenda of the 119th plenary session of the Venice Commission after the election of Vahe Griogoryan as a Judge of Constitution Court and publicize the latter.
- To rearrange the relations with the Venice Commission so, that the will of people is clearly pointed out in the post revolution reforms.
“Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor Office” NGO
“Protection of Rights without Borders” NGO
“Journalists Asparez Club” NGO
“Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center” NGO
Karen Tumanyan, Advocate
“New Generation” Humanitarian NGO
“Peace Dialogue” NGO
“Europe in Law” NGO
Law Development and Protection Foundation
“Yerevan Press Club” NGO
“Free Citizen Civic Initiatives Support Center” NGO
“Helsinki Association” for Human Rights Armenia
July 17, 2019