One of the three members of Armenia’s Constitutional Court dismissed as a result of government-backed constitutional changes was denied entry to the court building in Yerevan on Friday.
Police officers guarding the building did not allow Hrant Nazarian to enter the building less than two weeks after the Armenian parliament passed the controversial changes drafted by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step bloc. In a statement, the Armenian police said Nazarian ceased to be a court justice when they came into force on June 26.
The amendments to the Armenian constitution extended a 12-year term limit to all 9 members of the Constitutional Court, which has been locked in a standoff with Pashinian’s government for the past year. They thereby mandate the immediate dismissal of Nazarian and two other judges, Alvina Gyulumian and Felix Tokhian, who had taken the bench in the 1990s. They also stipulate that Tovmasian must quit as court chairman but remain a judge.
In a joint statement issued on June 25, the four justices challenged the legality of the amendments and said they have no intention to resign. Tovmasian also said separately that the parliamentary majority’s refusal to send the amendments to the Constitutional Court for examination before their passage was unconstitutional.
Pashinian and his political allies have dismissed these objections. They maintain that the court is not headed by Tovmasian and Nazarian, Gyulumian and Tokhian are not its members anymore.
The parliament controlled by Pashinian’s bloc is due to appoint three new high court judges within the next two months.
Nazarian, who has served in the country’s highest court for nearly 25 years, could not be reached for comment on Friday. He told RFE/RL’s Armenian service earlier that he and his ousted colleagues are planning to take legal action against the “violation of our rights.”
Gyulumian has indicated that she will appeal to the European Court of Human Right (ECHR). She had worked as an ECHR judge from 2003-2014.