By Karine Kalantarian
President Robert Kocharian is to nominate three government-linked lawyers to fill Armenia’s vacant seat in the European Court of Human Rights whose rulings are binding for all 43 member states of the Council of Europe.
The organization’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) will vote to appoint one of them a justice of the Strasbourg-based court later this year.
The three nominees are Alvina Gyulumian, a member of the Armenian Constitutional Court, Armen Harutiunian, rector of the Yerevan School for Public Administration, and Eduard Muradian, head of the government’s regulatory Commission on Securities. Although Kocharian’s office has not yet officially announced the nominations, they all confirmed their inclusion on the list which will be sent to Strasbourg soon.
However, it is still not clear whether the PACE will take up the matter at its spring session which begins next week. Among the key criteria for the selection of European Court justices is a high level of professionalism and relevant work experience. Candidates must also persuade the assembly that they will in no way be influenced by their national governments while exercising their duties.
Of all three Armenian candidates Harutiunian is seen as having the closest ties to the Kocharian administration. Apart from his main job, he currently heads a team of presidential lawyers who have drafted a package of amendments to Armenia’s constitution. Muradian, for his part, was conspicuously present at some of Kocharian’s campaign rallies during the recent presidential race.
Armenia placed itself under the jurisdiction of the Strasbourg court after joining the Council of Europe two years ago and ratifying in March 2002 the European Convention for Human Rights. Still, Yerevan has yet to sign up to the convention’s Protocol No. 6 which unconditionally bans the death penalty in peacetime.