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Statement by NGO’s on the need for radical reforms in areas of regional development and urban planning

Following the 2018 popular, non-violent revolution in Armenia, new authorities undertook a number of reforms in different areas aiming to improve the situation and mitigate the social injustice that had accumulated throughout the years. However, despite the fact public discontent for years had a lot to do with issues related to urban development, conservation of historical and cultural heritage and public areas, these issues are now ignored by the current government.

No changes have been taking place in the sector of regional development and urban planning. Some positive steps, such as the partial decommissioning of structures in the park adjacent to the Freedom Square are random, irregular and not based on a specific policy. We mostly see the old faulty habits carry on in the sector (including illegal construction) particularly in Yerevan.


Amendments to CSO legislation are adopted

On 24 April 2020, CSO legislation amendments entered into force. These amendments were adopted by the Armenian parliament on March 25 and address reporting requirements of public organisations and foundations. In contrast to the drafts presented in 2018, the amendments do not pose a risk to the right of privacy of donors and were developed in collaboration with CSOs. At the same time, a number of issues have yet to be solved to ensure smooth reporting process and prevent any related risks.


Varuzhan Hoktanyan: Criminal prosecution must not be selective

On April 22, the State Revenue Committee of Armenia (SRC) made a statement announcing that the Department of Investigations of SRC, based on sufficient evidence acquired during the initial investigation of a criminal case launched criminal cases in March and April against the former Armenian Ambassador to Vatican City, Mikayel Minasyan for alleged crimes posing public danger.


TIAC Board meets through video link

On April 22, the Board of Transparency International Anticorruption Center (TIAC) held a meeting through video link. All members of the Board – Suren Saghatelyan, Sarhat Petrosyan, Vazgen Karapetyan, Nvard Manasyan and Heriknaz Tigranyan – took part in the meeting chaired by TIAC Executive Director Sona Ayvazyan with Human Resources and Organizational Development Coordinator, Christina Margaryan taking minutes.


Concerning Failure of Effective Vetting in the Judiciary and Law-Enforcement

During the State of Emergency imposed in the Republic of Armenia, on 25 March 2020, the National Assembly adopted in the second reading a number of laws aimed at introducing mechanisms to check the integrity of candidates to become judges, including Constitutional Court judges.


Will the villas in Yerevan be seized? What to expect from the Law on the Forfeiture of Illegal Assets

The Government of Armenia has introduced a Draft Law on the Forfeiture of Assets Derived from Illicit Activity which sets a minimum threshold of 50 million AMD for forfeiture to take place. Varuzhan Hoktanyan, Programs Manager at Transparency International Anticorruption Center (TIAC), has pointed out several shortcomings in the draft legislation.

“What are the authorities going to do when the individual suspected of wrongdoing demands evidence as to how his or her assets are deemed illegal,” Varuzhan Hoktanyan asks. “A question like “Where did you get that money” will bring up another problem because it is likely that they will be able to come up with sufficient documents proving those sums are legal,” he adds.


Monitoring mission representative: We believe in this situation it would be preferable for elections in Artsakh to be postponed

It would be preferable if the presidential and parliamentary elections in Artsakh both scheduled for March 31 were postponed taking into account the spread of the Coronavirus in Armenia, said Executive Director of Transparency International Anticorruption Center (TIAC), Sona Ayvazyan to Medialab. The Akanates [Eyewtiness] Observation Mission, of which Sona Ayvazyan is a member, is planning to conduct election monitoring of the elections in Artsakh. However, as Ayvazyan notes, a number of the monitors have already refused to work in such conditions.


Election monitors from Armenia have reservations about Artsakh elections

Election observation mission from Armenia will be monitoring the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in Artsakh. Prime Minister Pashinyan announced yesterday that monitors going to Artsakh were going to be test for Coronavirus using rapid test kits. Union of Informed citizens and Transparency International Armenia Anticorruption Center will be monitoring the elections in Artsakh.


Sona Ayvazyan: Political assessment of former regime by parliament to be sufficient for recognition of state capture

Following the revolution in Armenia many political and public activists as well as human rights organizations have talked about the need to have an official political assessment regarding the past. A number of NGO’s, including Transparency International Anticorruption Center were demanding an official characterization to – in their view – the capture of the state. However, these calls were left unanswered.


Sona Ayvazyan: Government’s anticorruption plans are quite ambitious

March 11 saw the official launch of the OSF-Armenia project “Enabling Civil Society’s Collective Monitoring and Advocacy to Pursue Credible and Systemic Reforms Entailed in the Armenia – EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA).”

Executive Director of Transparency International Anticorruption Center (TIAC), Sona Ayvazyan was one of the speakers at the event where she talked about TIAC’s efforts to contribute to the EU-Armenia collaboration agenda. “We have long been trying to somehow contribute to key areas of partnership between the EU and Armenia but the fact is that for a long time, the actual document of the Association Agreement and then later that of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement were not available to us and we were not able to get familiar with their contents in order to be able to be more constructive and push for significant changes,” Ayvazyan notes.