Davtian floated the idea last week in a letter to Justice Minister Karen Andreasian, who heads the commission. He cited the increased number of espionage cases investigated by Armenian law-enforcement authorities since the 2020 war with Azerbaijan. He said punishment for such crimes should be toughened “especially against the background of existing security challenges in the region.”
Nobody has been executed in Armenia since 1991. The South Caucasus country agreed to formally abolish capital punishment when it joined the Council of Europe over two decades ago. The ban was enshrined in its constitution in 2003. Davtian wants the commission tasked with drafting constitutional amendments to propose its abolition.
Andreasian’s spokeswoman, Mariam Melkumian, said on Wednesday that the commission will decide whether to seriously consider Davtian’s idea or reject it out of hand at its next meeting that will take place “within the next 10-15 days.”
Armenia’s human rights ombudswoman, Kristine Grigorian, spoke out against the idea on September 1. Grigorian said that the commission, of which she too is a member, should not even discuss it in earnest.
Vladimir Vartanian, the chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on legal affairs, also dismissed the outgoing chief prosecutor’s proposal the following day. He said Davtian is advocating a punishment that runs counter to principles of “European democracy.”
“This is our common position,” Vartanian said, referring to the pro-government majority in the National Assembly.
Davtian will complete his six-year term in office on September 15. He will be replaced by Anna Vardapetian, a former aide to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. Vardapetian has still not said whether she will stand by her predecessor’s proposal.
Dozens of Armenians, including military officers, have been arrested and/or accused of spying for Azerbaijan during and after the war. None of them is known to have been convicted by local courts so far.