Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

HCA Vanadzor recommends specifying the formulation of non-property significant damage in the Criminal Code

December 19, 2022

Publications | News

As a result of the 2018 assessment of the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan regarding the Republic of Armenia, it has been recommended to ensure that “significant damage”, as an element of the crime of abuse of authorities, be compliant with requirements of legal certainty.  Though legislative changes were made after the recommendation was given, the Republic of Armenia has still not implemented this recommendation,


In case of corpus delicti with vague legislative formulations that give rise to various interpretations, different issues arise when defining significant damage, and those issues affect the whole investigation process. 


The Criminal Code, which entered into force in 2022, specifies the definition of significant damage with respect to certain  corpus delicti. For example, Article 441 of the RA Criminal Code envisages abuse of official or service powers or the influence conditioned thereof by an official or exceeding powers; in case of property damage, a large-scale property damage shall be considered significant damage.


While, according to Article 3 of the Criminal Code, when determining the size of illegal taking, illegally obtained or received property or gains, the amount  not exceeding 5 million Armenian drams shall be a large amount, and the amount exceeding 5 million drams shall be a particularly large amount.


It is obvious, however, that significant damage can be both property and non-property. In case of non-property damage, the concept of significant damage remains uncertain and gives rise to various interpretations.


Both the RA Constitution and the European Court of Human Rights judgments consider the existence of a significant damage not only in terms of violation of a right from the legal point of view, but also its severity. In this context, the victim’s perception is also essential. 


Therefore, it is necessary to specify what factors matter for the definition of a significant damage, especially in case of crimes against state service.


While it cannot have exact indicators and features, it is still important to legislatively enshrine guiding features and conditions that will make description of a significant damage as objective and clear as possible in practice.


HCAV considers that a legislative change is necessary to solve this issue. Before compiling the final text of the amendment, we plan to hold meetings with the RA Prosecutor General’s Office, RA Ministry of Justice, RA Corruption Prevention Commission, and the Anti-Corruption Committee. During those meetings, we will discuss the opinions of the state authorities,  based on which we will develop the final package of recommendations.

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