Armenia: Constitutional amendments approved in second reading

Armenia: Constitutional amendments approved in second reading

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Armenian parliament on Monday, June 22 approved amendments in the Constitution in its second reading.

The National Assembly convened an extraordinary session to discuss the bill on removing and replacing the President of the Constitutional Court and several judges.

The country's two opposition parties, Bright Armenia and Prosperous Armenia, did not attend either of the readings.

Currently, among the nine judges of the Constitutional Court, two judges have been elected after the parliamentary elections of December 2018 and according to the 2015 provisions, while the remaining seven judges were elected prior to April 2018, according to the 1995 and 2005 provisions. In early February 2020, the ruling majority proposed constitutional amendments to transitional Article 213, according to which the office of the Chairperson and judges of the Constitutional Court who were appointed prior to the entry into force of Chapter 7 of the 2015 Constitution shall cease (seven judges including the Chairperson). Under the amendments of 2015, judges of the Constitutional Court are elected by the National Assembly for a term of twelve years and only once, while the Chairperson is elected for a term of six years, without the right to be reelected.

By an amendment to transitional Article 213, the new terms of office introduced in 2015 (twelve years) could take effect for all judges, including the judges appointed before the entry into force of 2015 amendments. This would mean that judges having already served 12 years would be dismissed, while judges who had been appointed before April 2018 but who had served less than 12 years would stay in office until they had served a total of 12 years. Two sitting judges are already in office for more than twelve years, one judge is serving a second term, but this second term has not yet reached the twelve years limit. The parliament also seeks to sack the Chairman of the Constitutional Court, Hrayr Tovmasyan, immediately.

Earlier on Monday, the Venice Commission published an opinion on the problems that have been in the center of the constitutional crisis between the Armenian National Assembly and the Constitutional Court and recommended introducing a new transitional period which would allow for a gradual change in the composition of the Court.

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