A state-backed association representing Armenia’s judges on Wednesday strongly condemned the human rights ombudsman, Karen Andreasian, for alleging widespread corruption among them.
Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanian, meanwhile, challenged Andreasian to substantiate the allegations with “at least one concrete fact.” In a letter publicized by his press service, Kostanian said law-enforcement authorities cannot investigate them without any compelling evidence.
The ombudsman accused Armenian judges of routinely taking bribes to hand down corresponding rulings in a report on the country’s judicial system released earlier this week. Citing interviews with unnamed judges, prosecutors and lawyers, the report claims that the kickbacks are typically equivalent to 10 percent of compensatory damages sought in various disputes. They could range from $500 to $50,000 per case, it says.
Andreasian did not immediately react to the chief prosecutor’s letter.
The Armenian Union of Judges condemned the corruption allegations as baseless. “The report consisting of baseless judgments carries a serious risk of destabilization of state and public order,” the union said in a statement. “It is aimed at distorted public attitudes towards judges.”
The report’s findings have by contrast been endorsed by civil society representatives monitoring the Armenia judiciary that has long been notorious for corruption and lack of independence.