Human Rights Group Says Hovanessian Verdict Flawed

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Experts from Avangard–Center for Humanitarian Studies have made public serious violations of the law in the court decision rejecting Vahan Hovanessian’s appeal to the Supreme Court after being barred by the Central Electoral Commission to run for a vacant National Assembly seat.

Hovanessian–a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Executive Council of Armenia and a defendant in the "Trial of 31," was denied candidacy by the CEC–before formally appealing to the Supreme Court.

The analysis of the violations have been outlined in a memorandum. Avangard President Edward Mamikonian and Vice-President Ohanes Asrian–who is also the co-chairman of the Council for the Protection of Political Prisoners of Armenia–are going to send the memorandum to all embassies in Armenia and international human rights organizations.

The goal of the memorandum–as the document’s authors state–is to draw the attention of various individuals and organizations to the unlawfulness of the CEC decision refusing to register Hovanessian as a candidate for the National Assembly of Armenia.

Referring to Armenia’s Election Code–the Court recognized the Central Electoral Commission to be entitled to deny registration to a deputy candidate. However–the experts say–under all judicial norms in a law-governed state–the Constitution should be unconditionally superior to any legal or sub-legislative acts–including the Election Code (Articles 6 and 116).

Under Article 27 of the Constitution–which says that only an incapable or convicted person can be denied registration. Since the Court has not handed down a verdict in the "Trial of 31" case–Hovanessian–therefore–is eligible under the Constitution–regardless of any subjective reading of the Election Code–to be granted candidacy for the National Assembly.

Further–referring to international documen’s–particularly Article 26 of the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights–the Court argues that Hovanessian and other prisoners are equal before the Law and have the right to have equal defense before it without any discrimination. The Court in its rejection of Hovanessian’s appeal stated that other prisoners’ fair trial would be jeopardized in the event of Hovanessian’s candidacy.

However–experts believe the Court has taken this element of the International Pact–and used it erroneously in its favor. It is not clear how Hovanessian’s candidacy would endanger the fairness of his co-defendants’ state-pursued trial.

As a matter of fact–experts say–by giving its own interpretation of restrictions imposed on the rights of prisoners–the Court has completely violated Hovanessian’s right to be elected which he enjoys under Article 25 of the same Pact.

Moreover–the Court directly violates the requirement of Article 5 of the Pact on inadmissibility of any narrowing of the rights stated in the Pact.

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