January 8, 2019
Civilian Oversight and Monitoring
Draft Anticorruption Strategy of the Republic of Armenia and its implementation action plan 2019-2022 (hereafter referred to as the Draft) was posted on December 19, 2018 on www.e-draft.am, which is a unified website of the Ministry of Justice for publication of draft legal acts. The deadline for submitting comments and recommendations on the Draft was January 8, 2019.
We would like to proclaim that the process of development of the Draft, as well as its structure and content are of great concern, on which our comments are stated below.
- The Draft development process was non-transparent and insufficient participatory, compared with the development processes of the previous two anticorruption strategies and their implementation action plans (2009-2012 and 2015-2018), in which all the stakeholders were involved before official circulation of the mentioned documents, therefore they were entitled to have greater impact on their contents.
- The only discussion on the development of the new, fourth anticorruption strategy was held in January 2018, i.e. during the former government’s term of office. There was no official process to engage civil society in the development of the strategy after the revolution, and the recommendations submitted by NGOs were not even discussed.
- The draft was presented within a scope of a group of NGOs on December 19, 2018 and was posted on www.e-draft.am website the same day. The recommendations should be submitted within 14 days of the deadline, by January 3, 2019, which was later extended to January 8, 20 days. Given that 12 days within that period were holidays, the opportunities of interested citizens and organizations to get introduced with the document and to submit their recommendations have naturally become limited.
- It is obvious that the presented document was prepared without due diligence, inaccurately, and was submitted hastily in order to manage to publish it before the deadline of the third anticorruption strategy, December 31, 2018. By pushing the document in a non-transparent and non-participatory manner the Ministry of Justice has displayed a non-responsible attitude toward both the interested public and the document itself and its significance.
- In addition to the document development processes that raised concerns the Document fails to comply with the requirements of the methodological guidelines for developing concepts, strategies, programs, approved by the Government of the Republic of Armenia protocol decision No 2 of January 22, 2015.
- In particular, most important issues are missing in the Strategy part of the Draft, such as performance indicators, the procedures for monitoring the intended actions’ management and making their calculations, etc. The document enumerates the actions taken previously favorably, without assessing their effectiveness.
- Given that no Concept has been developed before drafting the strategy (which if developed, might have been logical and consistent with the above-mentioned guideline) a number of issues have been left out of the Draft. In particular, the goal is not properly set to describe the existing situation and the issues related to the current/previous policy in order to clarify what issues the new strategy was intended to solve. The issues on which the actions are based on are not analyzed, and the forthcoming actions, accordingly, are presented incoherently and without proper grounding. Subsequently, the relations of certain actions with the strategy and their substantiations are unclear. In particular, the role and significance of certain actions in fight against corruption are not clear, for instance, the legislative regulation of lobbyist action.
- The inaccurate and hasty preparation of the draft has affected its content. As a logical continuation of the formalistic approach adopted by the former authorities, the Draft fails to reflect the political will for fighting corruption.
- The very first paragraph of the Introduction of the strategy reads: “The Government of the Republic of Armenia has consistently fought against corruption in recent years, recognizing fight against corruption as one of the key directions of its activities.” There is neither a mention of people’s resistance against corrupt authorities, nor turning changes in fight against corruption in this document called “strategy” despite the government adopted approach of eradicating corruption instead of pursuing the former policy of imitation.
- In the same spirit in sections 1.1 and 1.3 of the Draft the results of the third strategy and the process of implementation of Armenia’s international obligations are described without assessing their effectiveness at least in the context of insufficient results of international organizations’ corruption related indices.
- The results of the action plan are presented, whereas it is unclear if all the actions might be completed before deadlines. Moreover, it is very important to provide the analysis of the results and lessons learnt in order to make corrections in further policy and actions to ensure their effectiveness.
- By truly mentioning about a number of shortcomings in the current strategy, i.e. the lack of monitoring mechanism, the non-flexibility of the document, and the lack of public awareness projects, the draft strategy fails to mention about the key shortcoming of the previous strategies’ implementation – the lack of political will. There is no mention of the systemic nature of corruption and its deep-rooted reasons.
- By considering the lack of monitoring mechanism as the most serious shortcoming of the third strategy, the draft strategy instead of proposing solutions, only provides declaratory statements and good wishes on monitoring in section 3. This approach may lead to the the lack of monitoring mechanism becoming a serious shortcoming of the new strategy and its implementation action plan.
- The anticorruption strategy does not properly address the judiciary and does not offer measures on judicial corruption other than e-justice platform, whereas it is clear that if the legislative and executive bodies manifest political will, corrupt judiciary and judges would be the main obstacle to eradicating corruption.
- The role of information and communication technologies is exaggerated and the action plan is overwhelmingly filled with recommendations on the introduction of discrete electronic tools in different areas without having a comprehensive picture of the problems in those areas and proper justification of the presented actions, as well as failure to manifest holistic approach to the philosophy of anticorruption policy.
- At the end of September 2018, during the presentation in Yerevan of the Fourth round monitoring report on Anti-corruption reforms in Armenia by OECD ACN, a number of recommendations were offered on making the fight against corruption more effective in the Republic of Armenia. It should be noted that a considerable number of recommendations presented in the report have been disregarded by the authors of the draft.
Taking into account the above-mentioned issues on the quality, content and adoption process of the draft RA Anticorruption Strategy and its implementation action plan 2019-2022, we demand that the adoption of the Draft be suspended and the document be revised as soon as possible with the involvement of all the interested NGOs.
It is time to put an end to the formal and fictitious approaches inherited from the previous government and to make the country's fundamental anticorruption policy document consistent with the existence of political will and public expectations in the fight against corruption.
We are ready to cooperate with the Government of the Republic of Armenia should they be willing to provide a participatory and open process in making a contribution in reviewing and improvement of the document’s content.
Transparency International Anticorruption Center
Journalists’ Club “Asparez”
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office
Open Society Foundations - Armenia
Investigative Journalists NGO
“EcoLur” Informational NGO
Peace Dialogue NGO
Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation
"Transforming Platforms" Right-Making Activities Foundation
“Angel” Social educational cultural NGO
“Center of Economic Right” NGO
Law development and protection Foundation
Public Journalism Club
Social Justice NGO
National Center of Public Policy Research
Real World, Real People NGO
Victims of State Needs NGO
Family and Community NGO
"Shogher" Union NGO
National Center of Public Policy Research
Huysi Metsamor NGO
Consumers Support Center NGO
Free Citizen CISC
“For Equal Rights” NGO
Confederation of Trade Unions of Armenia