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European Body Not Satisfied With Armenia’s Anti-Corruption Measures


Armenia - The main government building in Yerevan, March 6, 2021.

An anti-corruption arm of the Council of Europe has described as largely “unsatisfactory” the Armenian authorities’ response to policy measures recommended by it five years ago.

The Strasbourg-based Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) described corruption as an “important problem for Armenian society” and made 18 specific recommendations after sending a fact-finding delegation to Armenia in 2015. They mostly related to the independence of judges and prosecutors as well as corrupt practices among them and members of Armenia’s parliament.

GRECO has since released four interim reports on the current and former Armenian authorities’ responses to those proposals.

The latest report publicized on Thursday says that only seven recommendations have been implemented “satisfactorily” so far. In particular, GRECO lamented a continuing lack of transparency in the legislative process in Armenia.

It argued that over the past 18 months the country’s government-controlled parliament has passed 27 percent of laws under so-called “urgent procedures” involving short parliamentary debates and no public discussions preceding them. It also said that the authorities in Yerevan have still not enacted a code of ethics for members of the National Assembly.

The GRECO report further notes that the Armenian Ministry of Justice is still empowered to seek disciplinary proceedings against judges. This is “not compatible with judicial independence,” it says.

“Proper appeal mechanisms have been provided for decisions on the recruitment and promotion of judges but not for dismissal decisions,” adds the report.

GRECO further questioned the efficacy of more powers given to the Corruption Prevention Commission (CPC), a state body that scrutinizes income declarations filed by judges and other senior state officials as well as their family members.

“Measures taken to strengthen operational independence of the CPC are yet to take effect and its resources are to be made commensurate with its substantially increased mandate and powers,” it said.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has repeatedly claimed to have eliminated “systemic corruption” in Armenia since coming to power in 2018.

In the last three years law-enforcement authorities have launched dozens of high-profile corruption investigations mainly targeting former senior state officials, including ex-Presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian.

Kocharian and Sarkisian now lead major opposition alliances. Their supporters as well as other critics of Pashinian say that most of those corruption cases are based on dubious charges and aimed at boosting the prime minister’s popularity, rather than the rule of law.

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