All men who have illegally evaded compulsory military service and will have turned 27 by December 1 may be amnestied provided they pay a hefty sum, according to a new amendment passed by Armenian lawmakers on Friday.
The 105-seat National Assembly voted unanimously for the extension of the already existing legislation, with the amendment expected to provide hundreds of young men with an opportunity to avoid criminal prosecution and legally return to Armenia.
In order to do so, they will need to pay 200,000 drams (about $410) for each conscription period they illegally missed (or a total of 3.6 million drams, or some $7,400, for all draft periods).
Ruling Republican Party MP Karine Achemian, who presented the bill in parliament, clarified that the amended law will be in force until December 31, 2019.
The original law adopted in 2004 has so far been amended eight times. During this period thousands of citizens returned to Armenia benefiting from the amnesty offered by this legislation. The previous term of the legislation expired in May 2015.
Earlier, the Defense Ministry suggested that the parliament provide such an opportunity for the last time and also raise the legal cost of the amnesty to at least 9 million drams (approximately $19,000). But that initiative was rebuffed by the parliamentary committee on defense and security.
The committee’s head Koryun Nahapetian and several other lawmakers affiliated with the Republican Party publicly criticized the amendment last week.
MP Achemian also argued that the amendment sought by the Defense Ministry would restrict lawmakers’ constitutional right to come up with bills.
Nahapetian said last week that 700 and 800 draft dodgers have been granted such amnesty annually since 2004. He also revealed that almost 9,500 other men remain on the run on draft evasion charges.