In Armenia’s fight against corruption, no ‘big fish’ have yet been caught
Corruption is disastrous for countries with a small economy such as Armenia. The government of the country, the opposition parties as well as the private sector all agree on this – everyone had an opportunity to speak out on this matter on the Day of Fighting Corruption, but their ideas differed significantly.
The Chairman of the Armenian Association of Lawyers, Karen Zadoyan, believes that society is not content with the current rate of the fight against corruption – people want to see officials punished. He says that civic organizations must be consistent in their fight against corruption:
“We don’t have to announce a witch hunt – everything must be done in accordance with the law. We have the tools to do so. Society is waiting for punitive measures. It is one thing to talk about corruption, but it is another to actually apply these ideas in real life,” he said.
Alexander Amaryan, the Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Association stated that, although there are certain legislative regulations in Armenia – according to which those who are caught red-handed in corruption should be criminally tried – many of them do not work, and as a result, corruption exists in all state spheres since the perpetrators remain unpunished.
Meanwhile, the expert also believes that: “The authorities have the political will to fight corruption. However, the residents of the country must first refrain from engaging in corrupt behaviors.”
The authorities say that everything is being done to ‘neutralize’ corruption. The Minister of Justice, David Harutyunyan, says that the fight against corruption is being carried out on three levels:
- anti-corruption activities,
- bringing to justice,
- prevention of corruption.
The minister says that in recent years the authorities have taken several important preventive measures against corruption, including:
- the criminal punishment of illegal enrichment;
- an increase in the list of officials who must declare their income and property;
- the creation of a system of informers;
- the creation of a new anti-corruption body which will be operational starting in April 2018.
Experts note the importance of the punishment factor, emphasizing that legislative changes are not applied to high-ranking officials close to the authorities – they abuse their powers and are illegally enriched.
“The main question remains: Why, after all this, has there not been a real change in this sphere, when the desire to struggle against it is openly expressed and the necessary set of tools has been created for this? The reason is that words are devalued, the words of high-ranking officials are not worth a penny and society does not believe these words. As a result, the tools created will rust from the fact that they are not being used, and will become unnecessary,” said Norayr Norikyan, a lawyer.
Still no ‘big fish’ have been caught
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan stated several years ago that ‘big fish’ should be ‘caught’.
Armenia’s Prosecutor General, Artur Davtyan, in response to journalists’ comments that senior officials have never been brought to justice, said that before catching a ‘big fish’ it is necessary to understand whether their actions are a crime and whether it is possible to prove it.
“I promise you, as soon as the misdemeanors of the ‘big fish’ are proven, I will inform you,” he says.