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In response to the manipulation of the content of report of the 119th session of the Venice Commission

15/07/2019

The Government of the Republic of Armenia and the Ministry of Justice remain faithful to the declared goal of implementing profound reforms aimed at restoring the trust in judicial power and the recovery of judicial system, and to the position of achieving that goal through clarification and expansion of the grounds for instituting disciplinary proceedings against a judge, as well as elaboration of an impartial mechanism for the assessment of the integrity and property status of judges.

However, since the content of the report of 119th session of the Council of Europe's Committee on Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) gave rise to speculations in the media and caused a number of questions, we believe that the issue mainly concerns the interpretation of the word "vetting" and the way in which the instrument was used in different countries. By the way, it is at least confusing how a report or its content which has limited access has become available to those who unilaterally manipulate the issue.

The Ministry of Justice is firm in his approach, according to which the improvement  and reform of the practice on asset, property, revenue, expenditure and interest declaration, as well as effective introduction and application of impartial assessment mechanism of the integrity of judges will be the key elements of judicial reforms. Therefore, there is no gap and contradiction between the previous statements and the report of Venice Commission.

It is also remarkable that the 119th Plenary Session of the Venice Commission (June 21-22, 2019) was followed by the visit of the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Armenia, Rustam Badasyan, to Strasbourg on July 1-2, where these ideas were presented and discussed in detail during the meetings with Thorbjørn Jagland, General Secretary of the Council of Europe, Christos Giakoumopoulos, Director General of the Council of Europe's Committee on the Rule of Law and Human Rights, Gianni Buquicchio the President of Venice Commission and other high-ranking officials of the Council of Europe.

During the meetings, the Minister also briefed his counterparts on the Government's approach towards judiciary, short-term and long-term priorities, possible ways of solutions, which were approved by all partners.

Moreover, it was also mentioned that the Ministry of Justice will not be limited to only short-term changes. Currently, two important strategic documents on more comprehensive and long-term reforms aimed at reforming the judiciary and institutional fight against corruption are being elaborated. These comprehensive policy documents will be summarized and presented to a wider public discussion soon.

With regard to the situation around the Constitutional Court addressed within the report, it should be noticed that the executive power has not yet expressed any official position.

We would like to also inform that the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan will make a statement on this issue soon.

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