In Advance of the EEU Membership: The Right to Fair Trial: Today and Tomorrow
09.10.2014
12:00
The backbone of any country is its judicial system. The more independent the judicial system is, the stronger the backbone of a democratic state particularly is. Avetik Ishkhanyan, Chairman of Armenia's Helsinki Committee, and Haykuhi Harutyunyan, Head of “Protection of Rights without Borders” NGO, assessed the extent to which the right to fair trial described in the Constitution and the European Convention is realized in Armenia.

Avetik Ishkhanyan said, “the judicial power is a separate power and not just an appendix to the Government. Typically, a violation of our rights is mainly performed by the executive power and in order to restore our violated rights we apply to the judicial system where judges are appointed by the President.” Nevertheless, Ishkhanyan also noted that pursuant to the requirements of the Council of Europe, the 2005 constitutional reforms resulted in the replacement of the RA President as head of the Justice Council, yet the appointment of judges is still vested in the President.

Haykuhi Harutyunyan said that according to the estimates of the Freedom House international organization there has not been observed improvement in Armenia, “for more than 6 years the independence index of the judicial power has not changed.”

It should be noted that Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, who visited Armenia, stated that there is a progress with respect to the reform of the judicial system in our country.

In this regard, Harutyunyan said the reforms, unfortunately, did not yield the desirable result: “We have to admit that their effect does not refer to an individual. The positive shift is either not observed or too small.”

 

What will happen tomorrow?

With respect to the realization of the right to fair trial, Armenia ranks higher as compared with the three countries of the Eurasian Union, i.e. Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. However, after joining the Eurasian Economic Union, is it possible that we cede our position and observe regress in the given sector?

Ishkhanyan believes that if EEU succeeds as an institution, it will become a “political empire,” where it is out of the question to speak about the independence of the judicial system and achievement of success through political and civic initiatives.

Harutyunyan is convinced that the Armenian judicial system may serve as an example for other countries but with such political sector Armenia will not become the locomotive that will lead Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus to the establishment of an independent judicial system.

The speaker concluded that to avoid regress the public must be consistent and demanding: “The public should be the first demander. We ourselves must be active.”

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