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“I am so thankful to my uncle that I took his advice, applied to HCA Vanadzor and won the judicial case. My uncle had known about HCA Vanadzor for a long time, he also knew Artur Sakunts. He told me that only they could deal with my case and that I should apply to them”, this is how 39-year-old Vanadzor resident started his conversation with us. Before that he had applied to an advocate and paid AMD 80,000. Shortly after that, as he says, the experienced advocate refused by saying that he would not win the judicial case.
On 12 March 2019, in his second marriage, Armen Ghazakhetsyan’s 4th child was born. He also has 2 children from his ex-wife, a son and a daughter. With a mutual agreement with his ex-wife, their 14-year-old son lives with him and their daughter lives with her mother. However, they do not have a certificate of divorce in a judicial procedure and a document certifying about the care of the underage child.
Based on this very condition, Vanadzor territorial division of social security service under the RA Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs refuses to provide the one-time benefit for the birth of the third child. Having refused the service of a paid advocate and claiming back the money, Armen Ghazakhetsyan applied to HCA Vanadzor to get legal aid.
“When I went to Helsinki office, I did not have great hopes, but Sofya gave me hope. I was shocked that she made xerox copies of all my documents free of charge, I was astonished. She said it would be a time-consuming process, that I had to wait a little, but she confidently said that I would win the case. It turns out that actually, the lawyer who did not have so much experience managed to help me in the matter of my benefit, while the advocate with 30 years of experience, whose name I just don’t want to mention, refused. He said I couldn’t win the case anyway. And those AMD 80,000 wouldn’t be the whole amount of money spent, for sure, I would give twice as much to win this case, whereas, those people did it free of charge. I just want this Organization to work, because they “remove thorns from people’s fingers””.
HCA Vanadzor advocate Arayik Zalyan sent a letter to the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs regarding the grounds for refusing to provide the benefit. The response to this letter makes it clear that Armen Ghazakhetsyan first applied to get a benefit for the fourth child, which was refused, as Armen Ghazakhetsyan had not presented to the social security service a document certifying that he had a daughter from his ex-wife.
A. Ghazakhetsyan presented a new application, this time requesting a one-time benefit for the birth of his third child. He was again refused with the reasoning that he had to present a certificate of divorce from his ex-wife and a document certifying that he was taking care of his son in the established procedure according to the Government’s decision 275-N of 2014 on “Establishment and payment of one-time benefit for a child’s birth”.
“I want the social service system to be cleared by you. Nikol Pashinyan says there’s no corruption, but it’s not true”, says Armen, meaning that they made a hint on money in order to provide him with the benefit. “They said that the law had been changed and that I had to present a paper on being divorced by court, which I didn’t have, and they rejected it under this pretext”.
In 2019, Armen Ghazakhetsyan filed an administrative application with the RA Administrative Court, claiming to recognize invalid the decisions of Vanadzor territorial division of social security service and Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, as well as to oblige the Division to adopt a favourable administrative act on providing Armen Ghazakhetsyan with a one-time benefit for the birth of his third child.
When examining the case, the Court paid attention to a number of conditions, which essentially affected the outcome of the judgment.
Based on the comprehensive, full and objective examination of the proofs obtained in the frame of the case, the Court found that the claim was subject to be upheld with the following reasoning.
Vanadzor territorial division of social security service created obstacles for A. Ghazakhetsyan to implement his right to one-time benefit for the birth of his third child, in connection with the claim to present a relevant judicial act on the fact that he takes care of his child. In these conditions, his right to social security, guaranteed under Article 83 of the RA Constitution, was violated.
The Court found that the Law on “State benefits” clearly establishes the parent’s right to a one-time benefit for the child’s birth, as well as the condition that the amount of the one-time benefit for the child’s birth is distinguished by the newborn child’s number based on the number of the newborn child’s parents’ children. According to HCA Vanadzor legal consultant Sofya Petrosyan, in such cases, the law considers the parent and does not differentiate between the child’s father parent and a mother parent. If we consider the vice versa, that is, if A.Ghazakhetsyan’s ex-wife were in such a situation, social security service would definitely not claim such a document from her, whereas, in A. Ghazakhetsyan’s case, they claimed it. Thus, according to law, when setting the number of the newborn, the newborn child’s parents’, i.e. both the father’s and the mother’s children must be taken into account, and the law does not envisage any difference between the child’s father and mother.
It should be mentioned that in such cases, the Constitutional Court has expressed its legal position that in situations presupposing discriminatory attitude, importance should be given to the child’s best interest, as the money to be provided to the child in the form of one-time benefit is provided to support the newborn child and not the parent, though the main responsible persons for the child’s development and care are his/her parents. Thus, the principle of the child’s best interest must guide the relevant structures, in this case, Vanadzor territorial division of social security service.
On 16 July 2020, the Administrative Court made a judgment to uphold Armen Ghazakhetsyan’s claim by recognizing invalid the decisions of Vanadzor territorial division of social security service and Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs and obliging the Division to adopt a favorable administrative act regarding the provision of one-time benefit to Armen Ghazakhetsyan’s third child. At the same time, 4000 drams was levied from Vanadzor territorial division in favor of Armen Ghazakhetsyan as prepaid state duty.