The Prosecutor General’s Office issued a statement on September 1,2022, mentioning that Prosecutor General Artur Davtyan proposed to discuss within the framework of constitutional amendments the issue of establishing constitutional regulations enabling the death penalty as a form of punishment for treason.
The statement, in particular, reads: “Taking into account the importance of the issue, the prosecutor’s office studied the international commitments of the RA related to this sector and found that RA does not have a direct international-legal obligation to establish an absolute ban on the death penalty.”
In fact, this claim is false, because there is an international document by which Armenia undertakes to exclude the use of the death penalty within the borders of the republic.
On March 21, 2021, Armenia ratified the “Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” of the UN, the first article of which provides that no one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed. “Each State Party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction.”
It should be noted that the protocol provides for an exception in the case of a military situation, if a participating country ratifies the document with reservations, however, the Republic of Armenia signed the document without reservations.
Azerbaijan and Greece signed the protocol with a reservation, which provides for the use of the death penalty during martial law for a serious crime of a military nature committed during the war.
The death penalty in Armenia
The death penalty was abolished in Armenia in 2003 as part of the process of joining the Council of Europe, after which the maximum punishment in the republic has been the life imprisonment.
Article 24 of the RA Constitution declares that no one may be sentenced or subjected to death penalty.
However, Article 76 states that the ban on the death penalty may be lifted during a state of emergency or martial law.
Thus, the claim that the Republic of Armenia does not have a direct international legal obligation to establish an absolute ban on the death penalty is wrong.