The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday handed down two more rulings against Armenia stemming from what it considers deeply flawed investigations conducted by Armenian law-enforcement authorities.
The Strasbourg-based court awarded 50,000 euros ($55,000) in damages to the family of Suren Muradian, an Armenian army soldier who died in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2002. It ruled that military authorities did not properly investigate the death and punish those responsible for it.
In his lawsuit filed with the ECHR, Suren’s father, Hrach Muradian, said that the army conscript died from a serious illness because he never received adequate medical assistance during his military service.
In the second ruling, the ECHR ordered the Armenian government to pay 2,400 euros to an Armenian man who was convicted of murder in 2009. It said that the Armenian authorities violated Spartak Manucharian’s right to fair trial.
An Armenian court ignored Manucharian’s claim that he had falsely admitted killing a resident of the northern town of Alaverdi under duress during the pre-trial investigation.
Thousands of Armenians have appealed to the ECHR since their country submitted itself to the Strasbourg tribunal’s jurisdiction over a decade ago. The court has ruled against the Armenian state on more than 60 occasions to date. In 2015 alone it awarded 230,000 euros in damages to individuals whose rights were found to have been violated by Armenian government, law-enforcement or judicial bodies.
Justice Minister Arpine Hovannisian acknowledged in May “shortcomings” in the work of the Armenian judiciary but largely blamed them on Armenia’s Soviet past. She insisted that more judicial reforms planned by the authorities will make a difference within the next few years.
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. However, local courts still rarely acquit criminal suspects or rule against various government bodies.