Protocol 6 Does Not Contradict Constitution

ARMENIA’S CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES PROTOCOL 6 OF THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS BANNING THE DEATH PENALTY UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES–CONFORMS TO COUNTRY’S CONSTITUTION. (Armenpress)–The Constitutional Court (CC) of Armenia decided on Tuesday that Protocol 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights–which bans the death penalty under all circumstances–is in conformity with the Armenian Constitution. The ruling came after a request from President Kocharian for the high court to examine the conformity of Protocol 6 with the country’s constitution. The CC decision clears the way for Armenia’s National Assembly to ratify Protocol 6.

Armenia’s Justice Minister David Harutunian said that prisoners currently sentenced to the death penalty will serve the rest of their terms in jail–in the event that Armenia’s parliament ratifies Protocol 6. "In case of pushing Protocol 6 through–it will be applicable to people on death-row and the death penalty will be completely abolished in Armenia," he said.

When asked whether the elimination of the death penalty would cause public disappointment in regard to the five defendants on trial for assaulting the Armenian parliament in 1999 and killing the country’s prime minister–parliament speaker and six other top officials–Harutunian said that Armenia must finally decide whether it wants to fully join the European family. He added that the government’s position is that the country must continue the process of integration into European structures.

There are currently 42 convicts in Armenian jails sentenced to capital punishment. Armenia froze the implementation of the death penalty in the early 90s. Only recently–with the implementation of a new criminal code which abolishes the death penalty in peace time–did Armenia formally abolish the death penalty. However–a by-law pushed through parliament by the Republican party reserves the death penalty for criminals accused of grave crimes–such as the rape of a child and terrorism–committed before the new criminal code’s enactment–a clear move to have the October 27 terrorists executed.

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