YEREVAN—The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights has recommended Mr. Armen Harutyunyan as Armenia’s most qualified candidate.
The committee held a meeting in Paris on June 9-10 to weigh Harutyunyan’s candidacy against Ms. Liana Hakobyan’s. Harutyunyan, a former human rights defender, won the committee’s recommendation by a narrow majority over Hakobyan, an administrative court judge. The committee was chaired by Mr. Klaas de Vries of Netherlands’ Socialist Group.
In accordance with previous practice and as specified in Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 2002 (2014), the Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights assessed the qualifications of the candidates to the Court from Armenia. Candidates from Azerbaijan, Latvia, Luxembourg and Monaco were also assessed. All candidates were interviewed during the two-day meeting.
Following their visit to Yerevan, the co-rapporteurs of the PACE for Armenia, Axel Fischer (Germany, EPP/CD) and Alan Meale (United Kingdom, SOC) welcomed the intention of Armenian authorities to address some of the country’s systemic deficiencies through constitutional reform.
The rapporteurs also noted the diverging views of this reform among different political forces in Armenia, especially with regard to a possible change in the political system. They highlighted that, in their view, “the main aims of constitutional reform should be to strengthen political pluralism, accountability of the government towards the National Assembly, and ultimately public trust in the political system”.
Recognizing that trust in the political and election processes is still very low, they recommended that complicated electoral systems be avoided as they could be misunderstood. Moreover, they called upon authorities to invite international monitors to observe the upcoming referendum and ensure that proper public consultations and debate take place in its framework.
“Comprehensive public debate and fully democratic referendum processes are key for the democratic legitimacy of the new constitution,” emphasized the co-rapporteurs.
While most public debate has focused on the possible change of the political system, the rapporteurs noted that the concept paper for constitutional reforms proposes strengthening human rights protection mechanisms and the independence of the judiciary. “We welcome this intention and the debates on these chapters should not be overshadowed by the understandable debate on the political system,” stressed the rapporteurs.
The rapporteurs will present their findings on their visit to the Monitoring Committee in September and intend to return to Armenia later this year.