ECHR verdicts to undermine Armenia’s judiciary if financial liability rests upon judges - lawyer

11:45 • 26.09.16



The judgments against the Republic of Armenia by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have cost the country €335,000 in the past 2.5 years. For comments on the functioning of the judiciary and procedures for imposing material liability upon judges, Tert.am has interviewed Norayr Norikyan, a lawyer specializing in civil litigation.

 

Mr Norikyan, at a cabinet meeting in August, Hovik Abrahamyan, now a former prime minister, asked for calculating the sums paid to the applicants in ECHR cases. Also, liability measures for those issuing the verdicts were considered.


Our society does not for now accept the simple truth that the ECHR is our court. When Armenia was joining the Council of Europe back in 2001, it accepted all the rules of game proclaimed under that organization’s principles. Later, all the 46 Council of Europe member states agreed to partially cede their sovereignty to the Court and the supremacy of its judicial acts over the domestic legislation. Armenia did accept those rules back then, so it is really strange to me that the executive authorities  – whether incumbent or former – express concerns that the European Court of Human Rights issues verdicts against Armenia.  So what is it expected to do? To avoid such verdicts, it is important to meet one key condition: to ensure justice in the judiciary without interference in its work.    

 

Mr Norikyan, is there any available statistics (be it though rough) to indicate in what particular cases the ECHR passes judgments against Armenia?


Studies have shown that they largely deal with violations of the right to immunity of property, and immunity of personal liberty. Those are [norms] which are breached by the Republic of Armenia.


[The authorities] are in breach of the rights of Armenian citizens, who apply to the ECHR to seek protection. So it [Court] passes a verdict against the Republic of Armenia, and the authorities later start the quest for culprits. [The conclusion] is the judge who draw up a wrong judicial act should incur financial liability.


Suppose that’s material or another form of liability. How is the procedure going to be determined given that Armenia has a three-tier justice system comprising courts of first instance, appeal and cassation?


Yes, financial liability is practically a more global problem. Suppose a judge in a first instance court passes a wrong judgment; there is a court of appeals, as well as a court of cassation to repeal the judgment by the first instance court and prevent citizens from applying to the ECHR, having exhausted all the domestic remedies.


Yes, judges must incur disciplinary measures (which is practically enshrined in the legislation of the Republic of Armenia) but not financial liability. That would pave way to undermining the judiciary. Such a system would loom over the judiciary as the sword of Damocles.


What’s the accepted practice in the Council of Europe member states in such cases (when judgments are passed against their countries)?


The executive’s task is to do everything possible to accomplish and establish a just, unbiased and free judiciary to help exercise justice and reduce the number of acts against the Republic of Armenia. [It is important] not to persecute people for political views and avoid violating their fundamental rights. In that case, the verdicts against Armenia will decrease in number. Judicial errors are impossible to rule out; there is no country in the world [having a perfect justice system]. But it is possible to reduce their number.  

 

 

Hripsime Hovhannisyan





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