On September 23, former Justice Minister and RPA member Arpine Hovhannisyan spoke at the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) organized by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The latter made certain manipulative statements which have been addressed below.
At the conference, Hovhannisyan presented the Legal Education and Supervision NGO co-founded by her. At the beginning of her speech, Hovhannisyan responded to the Azeri speaker by saying that it should not be him teaching Armenia lessons of democracy. Director of the Institute of Democracy and Human Rights of Azerbaijan Ahmad Shahidov had noted in his speech that Armenia is moving towards authoritarianism.
Arpine Hovhannisyan then turned to the domestic political events in Armenia, presenting some “disturbing facts”.
“Isn’t it alarming that the office of the judge who made the undesirable ruling is searched in his absence when he is on vacation and then he is suspended?” Hovhannisyan asked a rhetorical question.
Mrs. Hovhannisyan refers to Davit Grigoryan, a judge of the Yerevan Court of First Instance, who decided to change Robert Kocharyan’s measure of restraint and release him from custody on May 18, 2019. His office was searched by Special Investigation Service (SIS) staff on July 17 while he was on vacation. And on July 29, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) decided to suspend Grigoryan’s powers.
It is noteworthy that all these actions were taken within the framework of the criminal case on forgery charges initiated against Grigoryan on the basis of a citizen’s report. In particular, according to the SIS, the judge made false records of hearings held at the same time last September, while not being present in the court building. At least this is not directly related to his “undesirable decision” concerning Kocharyan’s case, something that Arpine Hovhannisyan does not mention.
Hovhannisyan also said in Warsaw: “Isn’t it alarming that the new government has assisted a Constitutional Court judge whose election was in violation of the laws …” Arpine Hovhannisyan is referring to Vahe Grigoryan, whose election as CC judge was failed in the National Assembly by the RPA in October 2018. In May of this year, President Armen Sarkissian nominated him for the second time and he was elected a judge of the Constitutional Court.
According to Arpine Hovhannisyan, this is a violation of the law, but Fip.am has previously addressed this allegation and found that Vahe Grigoryan’s nomination for the position of judge of the Constitutional Court is not a violation of the law since according to Amendments to the Law on the Constitutional Court adopted on March 29, 2019, “If a new Constitutional Court judge is not elected, the competent authority shall nominate a new candidate for the Judge of the Constitutional Court within one month after voting.”
After her speech, Arpine Hovhannisyan wrote on her Facebook page that allegedly Daniel Ioannisyan, Programs Coordinator of the Union of Informed Citizens NGO, who had also made a speech at the same conference, accused her of “all possible flaws in the Armenian judicial system, considering me as a guarantor of independence.”
In fact, Ioannisyan said in his speech: “It is a little surprising that the representative of the former government which had captured the judicial system speaks here about the lack of independence of the judicial system. It is rather cynical of a person who, as a Minister of Justice, had a personal responsibility for the independence of the judiciary when it was completely under the control of the executive.” In other words, Ioannisyan accuses Hovannisyan of failing to fulfill her duties as Minister of Justice and not “for all possible flaws in the judicial system”. Moreover, Ioannisyan does not describe her as “a guarantor of (judicial-ed.) independence.”