Armenia has initiated the process of appointing a second substitute member of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am).
The Ministry added that it has already notified the Secretariat of the Commission about its initiative.
Ara Khzmalian, an international law specialist, has been named as a candidate for inclusion in the team of Armenia’s representatives to the Venice Commission.
Former Chairman of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Judicial Council Gagik Harutiunian has been Armenia’s member of the Venice Commission since 1997. His substitute is Vartan Poghosian, who along with current Chairman of the Constitution Court Hrair Tomvasian, co-authored amendments to Armenia’s Constitution that were adopted in 2015.
The Venice Commission, which is an advisory body of the Council of Europe that provides consultations to member states on legal reforms and issues, has recently been in the spotlight of Armenia’s politics for two reasons.
First, on July 18 Armenia’s Constitutional Court turned to the body for a ‘consultative opinion’ on the case of Armenia’s former President Robert Kocharian, who is charged with overthrowing constitutional order in connection with the 2008 post-election crackdown on the opposition.
A week later, it was reported that Armenia’s newly appointed Minister of Justice Rustam Badasian turned to the Venice Commission on the issue of the ratification of a Council of Europe convention dealing with the protection of women against violence and gender equality that some local conservative groups claim contains risks to family values.
The international body has not yet provided an advisory opinion on either issue.
It is not clear what involvement the Armenian representative to the Venice Commission has in providing findings on these issues.