While recognizing the Armenian authorities’ anti-corruption efforts, the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) conclude that the situation in Armenia for MPs, judges and prosecutors is now “globally unsatisfactory” and not yet fully compliant with GRECO recommendations. Armenia has fully implemented seven of 18 recommendations contained in GRECO’s Fourth Round Evaluation Report. The remaining 11 recommendations have been partly implemented.
GRECO encourages the authorities to continue and to complete their reforms and, in doing so, take fully into account all GRECO recommendations to ensure the success of the reform drive.
For example, since the new National Assembly convened in December last year, most draft laws and related amendments and minutes of committee sessions are published on the public website, although GRECO notes that publishing should be more consistent. GRECO appreciates increased transparency of committee sittings – since May 2019, open-door sessions are broadcast live – and that more progress on public consultations on draft legislation and less use of fast-track procedures for adopting new legislation are expected. But parliamentarians still do not have a comprehensive code of conduct with appropriate guidance on integrity related matters connected to a system of supervision and enforcement. And more needs to be done to ensure MP compliance with the rules prohibiting engagement in entrepreneurial activities.
For judges, GRECO welcomes the new Judicial Code, which provides for some integrity-related safeguards for judges. For example, the transfer or secondment of judges is now only possible with their consent. Enhanced provisions against undue interference with activities of judges have been included, but more is needed to ensure that these standards are applied in practice. Progress has been achieved in providing a possibility for judges to challenge certain decisions in recruitment before a court, but an appropriate appeal mechanism in disciplinary cases remains to be introduced. For prosecutors, GRECO appreciates the increased transparency of the selection of prosecutors and welcomes dedicated mandatory training on ethics. Confidential counseling to prosecutors needs to be separate from disciplinary mechanisms, however.
GRECO is following closely the developments relating to the recently formed Commission for Prevention of Corruption, which is supposed to ensure effective supervision and enforcement of the rules on asset declaration. GRECO stressed that the independence of this institution from political influence and pressure is “pivotal” and its proper functioning depends on a balanced and sustainable composition and transparent procedures. GRECO recommendations on this point should be fully implemented.