Yesterday, on July 15th, Path of Law NGO published the comments about the activities, taking place in the Republic of Armenia, from the Session report of the 119th Plenary session of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. The comments touched upon the vetting process as well. In this regard, the report specifically stated:
“Upon the invitation of the Armenian authorities, a delegation of high Council of Europe officials, led by the Director-General on Human Rights and the Rule of Law and including the Secretary of the [Venice] Commission, went to Armenia to discuss judicial reform. The agreement was reached that it would be neither necessary nor useful to carry out a general vetting of all sitting judges. Instead, disciplinary procedures should be strengthened and a link with the asset declaration system established. To this end, the Judicial Code should be amended before the end of July.”
The circulating document became a topic for heated debate as during the last 6-7 months the authorities of the Republic of Armenia were talking about the necessity of using vetting as a tool for transitional justice, which, in its turn, was aimed for judicial reforms. Moreover, the representatives of the government and their supporters used every possible opportunity to justify its importance. The latter opposed the criticism of vetting, the hazards and the concerns over it by bringing forward the argument for the support of the international organizations.
On May 27, an article was published on 168.am, according to which the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had received a letter from the Venice Commission on Friday containing harsh criticism. In this regard, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson Vladimir Karapetyan told Armenpress.am that the Venice Commission had expressed its readiness to support Armenia in implementing reforms and vetting of the judicial system, while fully respecting the Constitution of Armenia and accepted international standards.
Later, as the letter of the Venice Commission President was published, it became clear that there was no information about supporting the Armenian authorities in the vetting process, and the letter rather referred to SUPPORTING the DEVELOPMENT of the reforms to be carried out exclusively for the restoration of trust in the judicial system of Armenia.
Ruben Melikyan, the chairman of the Path of Law NGO, referred to this noting that "this is obviously an attempt to present black as white and criticism as encouragement.”
AntiFake.am also touched upon the topic showing that there was nothing mentioned about the support for the vetting process in the letter sent to Nikol Pashinyan. Hence, Vladimir Karapetyan is lying.
The prime minister's spokesperson, who did not accept the criticism of the content of his announcements and his mistake, wrote a Facebook post with insulting remarks, reiterating that “...the [Venice] Commission has supported radical judicial reforms in and even the vetting process ….”
It became clear from the Session report of the 119th Plenary session of the Venice Commission, which had been already published the day before, that the Commission had found the general vetting of all sitting judges to be neither necessary nor useful, and that disciplinary procedures should be strengthened instead which should be linked with the established asset declaration system. An agreement on the latter was already reached with the Armenian authorities.
Thus, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson Vladimir Karapetyan, aiming to justify the need for vetting at all costs and to showcase the support of the international organizations in this regard, distorted the content of the letter of the Venice Commission President in the comments he gave to the press and on his Facebook page and presented that the Venice Commission was ready to support the vetting process. Meanwhile, yesterday it became clear that not only did not the Venice Commission support vetting but considered it unnecessary and not useful.
So, Vladimir Karapetyan has lied about this.
Author - Astghik Matevosyan