The European Court of Human Rights has handed down 20 rulings against the Armenian authorities since the beginning of 2014, costing them over 335,000 euros ($375,000) in damages, a senior official said on Friday.
Davit Harutiunian, the chief of the Armenian government staff, publicized the figures during a weekly session of Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s cabinet. He said the government lost eight of those cases, filed by Armenian citizens, this year.
Armenia fell under the European Court’s jurisdiction when it joined the Council of Europe in 2001. Its government lost the first case in Strasbourg in 2007.
The court ruled against the authorities in Yerevan on more than 40 occasions from 2007 through the end of 2013, awarding plaintiffs more than 500,000 euros in total damages. Many of those cases were filed by Armenian opposition activists arrested and prosecuted during former President Robert Kocharian’s rule and the February-March 2008 handover of power to Serzh Sarkisian, which was marred by the use of deadly force against opposition protesters in Yerevan.
The Strasbourg-based tribunal also ordered the Armenian authorities to compensate dozens of Yerevan residents displaced as a result of controversial redevelopment projects overseen by Kocharian.
Commenting on the latest data revealed by Harutiunian, Abrahamian admitted that the European Court continues to fine Armenia because of “mistakes committed by our judicial system.” “Of course, there can be mistakes in the judicial systems of all countries, but when possibilities of rectifying those mistakes are exhausted people appeal to the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.
Ever since the mid-1990s, the Armenian judiciary has undergone sweeping structural changes that were supposed to make it less susceptible to government pressure or influence.
Nevertheless, Armenian courts are still not perceived to be independent, rarely acquitting criminal suspects or making other decisions going against government and law-enforcement bodies. In particular, the courts usually ignore defendants’ claims that they falsely confessed to crimes under duress.