When the Manukyans of Armavir attempted to register their marriage, they were met with an unpleasant surprise at their local Office of Vital Records. Armenia’s Office of Vital Records issues certified copies of official documents. Citizens contact the office when they need marriage, birth, or residence certificates. The couple needed their marriage certificate to travel abroad the following month; however, upon learning of their plans, the office clerk added an extra step to the registration process. The clerk allegedly made them believe that the process would take more than a month unless they agreed to make an additional, unofficial payment.
At the time, the Manukyans were unaware of their rights regarding marriage registration, but they had heard from friends about the national network of Advocacy and AssistanceCenters (AACs) and decided to visit the one in their province. The Armavir AAC is one of eleven centers throughout Armenia
where victims of corruption can receive free legal assistance on a walk-in or call-in basis. AACs are operated by local NGOs and work to keep citizens abreast of their rights when requesting public services.
AAC lawyers informed the Manukyans about their document registration rights, which include the right to fair and timely processing of official documents. The couple returned to the Office of Vital Records and quoted the regulations that supported their claim. Without any further pretext or delay, the clerk issued their marriage certificate.
“We thank the AAC for giving us the chance to get what we were supposed to get by law and might have lost through manipulation by the staff at the Office of Vital Records.”
* The names and images of the parties involved in this case have been changed for confidentiality purposes.