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Minister of Justice meets with civil society representatives; meetings will be ongoing

11/07/2019

The Ministry of Justice has launched a series of discussions on two major documents with civil society representatives.

On 10 July, Minister Rustam Badasyan received representatives of a number of non-governmental organisations and discussed conceptual approaches to and regulations of the draft Anti-Corruption Strategy and the Strategy for Judicial and Legal Reforms. The Minister expressed gratitude to the partnering organisations for accepting the invitation and attaching importance to the conduct of such meetings and assured that these meetings will be ongoing.

During the meeting, Rustam Badasyan presented the in-depth reforms to be made in two major sectors for clarification of the functions of the Anti-Corruption Court and the Anti-Corruption Committee; improvement of the institution of declaring the assets, incomes, expenses of officials; institution of disciplinary proceedings against judges; specification of the grounds and procedures for recusal of a judge and the scope of bodies that are competent to institute disciplinary proceedings against judges, as well as the need for introducing the institution of forfeiture of illegal assets and electronic justice.

Chairperson of the Armenian Lawyers' Association NGO Karen Zadoyan attached importance to consensus solution for the selection of a new Anti-Corruption Body and noted that Armenia does not have the right to lead implementation of the actions envisaged by the Anti-Corruption Strategy to failure. Karen Zadoyan also expressed his concern about the draft document on the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption that is recently being circulated, and in response to this, the Minister said this is not the final document.

Executive Director of Open Society Foundations Armenia NGO Larisa Minasyan positively assessed the simultaneous development of the two important strategies and emphasised that in-depth reforms in the judiciary will not be sufficient. According to Larisa Minasyan, there is also a need to implement reforms within prosecutorial and investigative bodies.

Chairperson of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor NGO Artur Sakunts also attached importance to simultaneous development of the two strategies and noted that the activities of the active law-enforcement bodies with the to-be-established Anti-Corruption Committee must be harmonious and that the new institution shall not prevail over the existing institutions. Artur Sakunts also attached importance to the provision of sufficient guarantees of independence to the anti-corruption institutional body and depoliticisation of the process of selecting the head of this body.

Executive Director of Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center NGO Sona Ayvazyan attached importance to opening a log book for data of the Agency for State Register of Legal Entities of the Ministry of Justice and free public access to the relevant information with the view to revealing the real owners of legal entities within the framework of the fight against corruption.

According to founder of “Asparez” Journalists Club Levon Barseghyan, the reforms should be complex and should also be related to the police, the Prosecutor General’s Office and investigative bodies within which, according to him, there is a need for revolutionary solutions.

Chairperson of the Governing Board of the CSO Anti-Corruption Coalition of Armenia Arkadi Sahakyan welcomed the initiative of the meeting and expressed the expert support of the Coalition for the activities aimed at developing the final document related to the anti-corruption field.

The Minister of Justice expressed gratitude for the co-operation and assured that the Ministry is currently trying to propose fast and effective solutions for the sector-specific reforms by taking advantage of the existing opportunities of the legislation; however, in the long run, it is not avoiding proposing final solutions to certain issues through constitutional amendments.

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