Hovsep Khurshudyan, head of “Free Citizen” non-governmental organization, addressed the in-camera session of the Supreme Judicial Council of December 26, where a decision was made - with 9 in favor and 0 against votes - to include Anna Matevosyan, judge of Yerevan General Jurisdiction Court of First Instance, in the list of judge candidates subject to promotion to be appointed in the Criminal Appeal Court. Hovsep Khurshudyan noted that this judge, as instructed by Serzh Sargsyan’s regime, made an illegal decision to arrest him in the Sari Tagh case. Having appealed the decision in all instances, with the support of Protection of Rights without Borders NGO members Haykuhi Harutyunyan, Araks Melkonyan and Hasmik Harutyunyan, the case won at the ECHR.
He then applied to the Ethics and Disciplinary Matters Commission to initiate disciplinary proceedings against this outlaw judge Anna Matevosyan, as well as judges of Appeal and Cassation Courts, who left the decision in force (including notorious A.Azaryan). However, the Commission, represented by its head Sergey Marabyan, refused to uphold his application, as they did not find any violation by the judges, even given that their decision on arresting me had been considered unjustified by the ECHR. He then addressed a question to Head of the SJC Karen Andreasyan, asking whether they asked the civil society, political forces and Corruption Prevention Commission who those judges were when including them in the promotion list, whether they had done vetting. He also stated that there could be many more similar judges, and went on to ask whether they even checked if those judges had any cases overthrown by the ECHR. He ultimately mentioned that it was necessary to eliminate the judicial-legal system formed during the previous government, and not to replace it with a similar one. He then noted that back in 2019, Nikol Pashinyan announced that judges who lost cases at the ECHR should be removed from the system, but now, instead of removing them, they promote those judges.
In a conversation with 1in.am, Artur Sakunts, President of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor, addressed the issue and mentioned that it was pointless to speak about reforms having the background of such decisions, “Such decisions indicate that the corrupt and captured government uses that for its interests, for which the rule of law does not exist as a value. This is an exclusively irresponsible attitude towards the public, citizens, with respect to whom they undertook obligations.
And do those who made a decision about Matso have any responsibility? That Matso made an application to quit, but he is still in the judicial system, just like many others. And what about all the other judges who continue their tenure despite having lost dozens of cases at the ECHR. This is a deliberate, intended failure of the reform. Those who are controlled, i.e., the corrupt judges with no backbone, serve the government”, Sakunts said.
He also noted that during the next elections, the acting authorities would face their unfulfilled promises, “The government will not be reelected this way. The former authorities never promised to form an independent judiciary, while the current ones promised and did not fulfill that promise, and thus the citizens will not elect them. Yet another group of the refused will leave, through elections, of course”.
We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations - that are members of the Council Coordinating Police Reforms - consider that appointing in such positions those who fail police reforms and violate values of integrity, liability, legality, human rights and democracy, completely blocks the way to real, profound value reforms of the Police.
Moreover, we believe that these appointments will inevitably lead to a new flourishing of patronage and other manifestations of corruption in the system and the re-establishment of other traditions diametrically opposed to the values of reform.
Therefore, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor, “Union of Informed Citizens” and “Driver’s Friend” human rights organizations stop their activity in the Council Coordinating Police Reforms and the related working groups, considering it pointless in this situation.
And though there is a great need for deep, institutional and real reforms of the police in Armenia, we consider that in case of General Vahe Ghazaryan being the Minister of Internal Affairs, it is not possible to carry out either deep, institutional or real reforms.
At the same time, non-governmental organizations will continue observing the formation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor
Union of Informed Citizens
Driver’s Friend human rights organization
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