“Lack of court independence hinder advocate’s work”

Frequent contact with courts has given grounds to Anahit Hakobyan to claim that “If attorney does not mediate with judge for a bribe, he less unlikely to win the case”. Iravaban.net had a conversation with attorney Anahit Hakobyan working on joint project between UN High Commissioner on Refugees Office in Yerevan And Armenian Young Lawyers Association “Legal representation of asylum seekers”.

– Psychologists believe that reasons for person’s profession must be searched in his childhood. What were you responding to the question “What do you want to be, when you grow up as a child?

– To that question I always replied that I want to be someone who can help the weak, good people and punish the evil. I didn’t realize back then that it was attorney’s job. I read a lot of fairy tales and was irritated that the evil was always winning in the beginning, but then was of course defeated.

– Can you tell us about your past prior to joining Armenian Young Lawyers association (AYLA)?
– I graduated school with honors and was admitted to Yerevan Stet University’s law faculty. I graduated the university with honors, as well. I immediately started working at lecturer at Tavush university, then with State revenue committee as lawyer. I the worked at “Bem” Ltd, at the same time teaching basics of law at theatrical college. In 2006-2010 I worked at the French university in Yerevan as head of internships. I have been a member of the Armenian Chamber of Advocates since 2007. Along with my work at the French university, I also worked as legal consultant at Inecobank. Since 2010 I have worked with AYLA on the Advocacy and Assistance project, and now I work on the joint project between AYLA and UN High Commissioner on Refugees to protect and represent the interest of asylum seekers. During my whole work this has ben my favourite activity which complies with my nature. Now I can provide more help to people, moreover that legal services are free.

– Neither attorneys nor judges can give way to emotions. However, do you recall any case, where you were sure of the plaintiff’s innocence, but the law did not provide for acquittal.
– Not many, since we eventually were able to achieve justice. I am very balanced and checked in court. I have received some threats that if you take up a case, I would get calls and be told stuff. In such cases you need to reply with love (smiling) – editor). Once there was a criminal case (Yerevan AAC case), where the judge and investigator were saying outrageous things. Non-lawyer would be stunned or would laugh. The judge was trying to restrain my speech, so sometime you have to raise voice. After that everything went well. After we left the court room, my defendant told me: “Anahit, what did you do? They must be depressed now, the poor things”. He was speaking about the judge, investigator and prosecutor. Sense of justice is in me and it gives me power to stand up against fear.

– They say, law is like a spider-web: big flies manage to get away, and small ones are busted. Do you agree to this, if you consider the Armenian legal framework.
– Yes, it is relevant to our reality. There was a case, when the opponent had connections and managed to divert the case. We could not succeed. That case is currently in European court on Human Rights. There are no perfect laws in the world. Even the laws of the most successful countries can be by-passed. է: We have issue with personalities, not laws. Indeed, big flies get away, while small ones are busted. The solution is proper upbringing of people. Armenians must be well-educated since pre-school. It’s about people, not laws.

-Bringing up children we bring up the coming history of our country, so the worl history as well. What does an attorney mother prioritize in bringing up her 8-year-old child.
– I am lucky he was born with those values. I don’t preach to him or anything. I just give him advice, when needed or walk with him. I don’t force things on him. I do the key thing – serve as example. If I wan a boy to be like that, that how I do it. He studies well at school, but for me the most important part is his human side.

– You vide clip “It’s Night” under the stage name of Anna Artsruni appeared online in March. Attorney and singer seem to be different sides. How did you decide to get into singing?
– I played piano a lot in school years. My dad’s side has many singers. AI attended festivals and contests. I got my first prize, when I was 9, as I won the national music contest (I got 30 roubles). My mother bought me dress then (smiling – editor): I always sang and listened to folk music. But my father then said no to singing and asked me to think about a profession. But I kept the idea of performing expressing my musical wishes. We shot the clip in two months.

– Coming back to your legal work, what can cause problems in working a legal job in Armenia?
– Corruption of judiciary is a problem. Court of appeal does not explain its decisions. Lower courts implement that court’s decrees. The problem is that courts and judges are not independent.

– They say, if there was justice, there would be no need for law or attorneys. Do you think such time will ever come?
– As you know, I’m optimist and I believe that day will come (smiling – editor). Justice will come, when people change and civil society is formed. When people stop breaking laws, not because it’s illegal, but because they shouldn’t. When people have a judge inside themselves, perhaps then there will be need for attorneys.

Nune Hovsepyan

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