“The Monitoring Results of the Ethics Committee Activities: Parliament Monitoring”
02.02.2017
11:00
A press conference was held at the Media Center on the activities of the NA Ethics Committee of the 5th convocation, during which the "Parliamentary Monitoring" Program presented the monitoring results of the Commission activities during 10 sessions.

Lusine Vasilyan, Head of Parliament Monitoring Program, Gor Abrahamyan, Expert at Parliament Monitoring Program, Khosrov Harutyunyan, MP of NA Republican Faction, Tevan Poghosyan, MP of NA “Heritage” Faction, participated in the press conference. 

The "Monitoring of the Legislative Activity of the National Assembly" Project was implemented by "Mandate" Informative NGO. The publication of the report and the project implementation was funded by the "Open Society Foundations - Armenia".

“We observed 10 sessions, during which the Ethics Committee held 51 sessions, 32 applications were received. More than half of the applications did not accept the appeal, 5 applications were dismissed, one of them was suspended. Only half of the applications were examined. The number of applications sent to the Ethics Committee has decreased session by session. There were 20 applications during the 2nd and the 3rd sessions, 2 or 3 applications were received during the following sessions and during the 7th session they have not received any application,” Vasilyan said.  

He notes that half of the applications were sent to the committee by NGOs, then by citizens, journalists, and MPs.      

“The Commission recorded the violation of ethics rules for 7 times during 4 years, and even more remarkable is that six of these seven decisions referred to 3 MPs. Arakel Movsisyan’s behaviour was discussed for 3 times, Mher Sedrakyan’s behavior was discussed for 2 times, and Samvel Aleksanyan’s behaviour was discussed once. A decision referred to 7 MPs voting instead of others,” Vasilyan said.

She emphasized that the Commission turned into the structure evaluating behaviour, and its most important functions became secondary.

“The function of a prohibition of business activity and conflicts of interest became less essential, the Commission has turned into a structure that simply assesses the MPs' behaviour, their ethical behaviour, and did not turn into the institute, the anti-corruption instrument during the sessions as it was intended,” Vasilyan said.   

Gor Abrahamayann, the program expert, underlined that summing up 10 sessions they recorded that Ethics Committee did not succeed, it did not fulfill its anti-corruption role.

“Mechanisms that were inputted by the NA Regulation law do not succeed and will not succeed in the near future. The anti-corruption role is not fulfilled. Two cases were recorded over the conflict of interests and Ethics Committee rejected them initially, later there were no cases. This shows that it is pointless to go on such committees. The third session was led by the ANC faction, Nikol Pashinyan, and during that period most applications were received, while conclusions about ethical violations are fully published and presented at the National Assembly,” Abrahamyan said.

Referring to the report data of NA monitoring, Khosrov Harutyunyan said that he does not share the view that the Institute of the Ethics Committee did not succeed and will not succeed. 

“Public attitudes to the behavior should gradually be changed. To say that this institution has no prospect to succeed is not true, I insist on the opposite. This is a new institution, which also needed public support. When I was the chairman of one session of the Committee, I noticed unhealthy pressure on me, guiding me to make oppressed decisions. The media were the oppressors,” Harutyunyan said.

He notes that the Commission could discuss only the issues about which applications were received.

“ The Commission acts on the basis of applications, to accuse the commission that the issue of conflict of interest was pushed to the background is not true. Only two applications were received in relation to Mikayel Melkumyan and Hermine Naghdalyan, and the chairman of the Commission was from the opposition but the application was terminated. The Commission can not apply sanctions, a deputy cannot apply sanction against other deputies,” Harutyunyan added, highlighting that the Ethics Committee needs to improve yet.

Tevan Poghosyan referred to several issues which were not included in the report:

"If we look at the process, the committee conducted its work at 100 percent. The applications were received and discussed, if there were bases they were sent back or rejected, or examined, the decision could not be made, and the decision is made by ballot, voters were MPs. And did we look who there were, who were sitting there and why they were behaving in a certain way for every issue? Many times the application has been sent to invite the Commission to come and present but they come saying that they had nothing to add. People from other factions come to say, “He is my friend, here I can not solve this problem.” And you are unable to tell the MP to change his behaviour and it affects the conclusion. There have been investigations of the application that I was left alone in the Commission, it turned out that only my ear heard these words but we fought, and these struggles were not included in this report,” he said.

Referring to sanctions, Poghosyan said that these sanctions in case of violation of ethical rules are ridiculous. “To deprive of the vote, to give names from the tribune, to invite out of the hall for a day, prevent participation for 6 days...”

The MP called on the monitoring committee to meet all the members of the committee within the framework of the monitoring and preparation of the report and to discuss all the processes with them.

Lilit Arakelyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to lilitarakelyan@pjc.am.

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