Strasbourg, 25 February 2016 – In a new report published today, the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) notes that corruption remains an important problem for Armenian society, even though the fight against it has been high on the political agenda for years. The report specifically looks at the situation with preventing corruption among parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors.
The judiciary in Armenia appears to be particularly prone to corruption, the report says, and to suffer from the deficit of independence. There are also concerns about the lack of clear separation of powers, the weakness of the Parliament and insufficient transparency in public decision-making.
“Concerns about the current system of state powers and public governance in Armenia should be addressed with a comprehensive and inclusive reform process,” said Council of Europe Secretary General, Thorbjorn Jagland. “Reform should be pursued with determination and without delay. Fighting corruption is a priority. We stand ready to assist Armenia in this process, and we trust the authorities will take our recommendations on board.”
GRECO specifically recommends that the rules on the acceptance of gifts by parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors, as well as on submitting regular asset declarations, on their control and enforcement be further developed and made more effective. Further improving the transparency of the parliamentary process, adopting a code of conduct for members of parliament, preventing circumvention of the restrictions on business activities by parliamentarians, are among other recommendations.
The existing procedures for recruitment, promotion and dismissal of judges and prosecutors, including the Prosecutor General, as well as disciplinary procedures need to be further amended. A deliberate policy for preventing improper influence on judges and prosecutors, as well as conflicts of interest and corruption within the judiciary and the prosecution service should be pursued. The immunity of judges should be limited to activities related to the administration of justice.
By the end of April 2017 the authorities of Armenia are to report back on measures taken to implement the 18 recommendations included in this report. GRECO will assess the effectiveness of these measures in a “compliance report” in the second half of 2017.