YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A special National Assembly session Wednesday adopted a package of bills including a bill on "the activities of the judicial system of the Republic of Armenia in the transition period of the judicial and legal reforms," another bill on the Prosecutor’s Office–as well as one on the general and special parts of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Armenia.
The same day the chairman of the parliamentary standing Committee on State and Legal Issues–Artur Baghdasarian held a press conference where he pointed out that starting from January 12–1999 a new judicial system will come into effect and before that–during the six month transition period–some changes have been scheduled including the repair of court-rooms and their technical reequipment.
At its next session–in the fall of 1998 the parliament will discuss a number of bills closely connected with the judicial and legal reforms–in particular–the bills on police–operative investigation–criminal code and the code of criminal execution.
This year’s budget did not provide for any funds for implementing the proposed judicial and legal reforms–Baghdassarian told Noyan Tapan. Some of the funds envisaged in the budget for construction will be directed to the repair of courts. However–he reported–negotiations are being conducted with the World Bank on allocating a long-term interest-free loan for $10 million in order to initiate the reforms at the beginning of 1999. The chairman of the committee stressed the need for allocating funds from the state budget to pay the judges’ salaries in order to prevent bribery.
When asked about the necessity of the "law on making amendmen’s in the corrective labor code," Baghdassarian said that the necessity of adopting the law was conditioned by parliament hearings through which parliamentarians visited a number of penitentiaries. The law provides for the improvement of the living standards of prisoners. The new law allows a prisoner to receive up to 50 kg. of parcels as well as long meetings and telephone conversations–Baghdassarian reported. Also–prisoners who serve a quarter of their term on good behavior they will be granted the right to request better living arrangemen’s such as moving from a high security facility to a general security facility. Privileges have also been established for convicted women and minors. Baghdassarian said the law changes will make it possible to release nearly 950 prisoners and mitigate the sentences of others.