PACE urges Armenia to refrain from pressuring judiciary

PACE urges Armenia to refrain from pressuring judiciary

PanARMENIAN.Net - Yuliya Lovochkina and Andrej Sircelj, co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Armenia, warned the country on Tuesday, May 21 to refrain from pressuring its judiciary.

“Political stakeholders must refrain from actions and statements that could be perceived as exerting pressure on the judiciary,” said the co-rapporteurs, following a statement by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan calling on citizens to block the entrances and exits of courts, on May 19.

The call followed a judge’s decision to release former President Kocharyan from pre-trial detention.

“Without prejudice to the merits of this decision, we wish to emphasise that the independence of the judiciary is a pre-requisite for the rule of law, and that the rule of law is therefore best served by the absence of any interference from political actors. There are clear legal procedures, such as appeals to a higher court, to challenge a court decision that seems questionable. Respecting the rule of law requires respecting the procedures that exist to protect all citizens, irrespective of who they are.”

"However, we recognise that the reaction of the public to this court decision underscores the still low level of public trust in the judiciary. Judicial reforms remain a priority and we welcome Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's stated desire for far-reaching reform of the judicial system, particularly with regard to the fight against corruption, as well as his wish to associate the Council of Europe with it,” said the co-rapporteurs.

Pashinyan said Monday that the judicial system in Armenia is still not legitimate.

In a live address on Monday, the PM addressed demonstrators blocking access to courts across the country.

During the past year, he said in his speech, political changes have taken place in Armenia that have helped create legitimate legislative and executive powers, “but the judicial system continues to be non-legitimate.”

Pashinyan said that it (the judicial system - Ed.) is a threat to the Armenian people.

According to the head of the government, all the judges from now on must be subjected to vetting, which means that people must have access to information about the political ties they have, their property, former activity, individual and professional characteristics

He said all the judges who handed out verdicts disputed in the European Court of Human Rights, must resign or be fired.

Judges “who know that they cannot work unbiased and objective” must resign too, he said.

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