End of an epic: Armenian authorities renew Constitutional Court, head of court replaced
Three new judges have been elected to Armenia’s Constitutional Court earlier today by parliament.
Only MPs from the ruling My Step party took part in the vote, with both opposition factions on the eve having announced a boycott of the process.
The need to elect three judges at once arose after the amendments to the constitution adopted by parliament came into force on June 26: according to the amendments, judges of the Constitutional Court who had served a twelve-year term were to terminate their powers. There were three such judges.
In addition, the chairman of the Constitutional Court, Hrayr Tovmasyan, whose dismissal has been long-sought by the authorities who claim he is too close to the former ruling party, lost his position as chairman of the court. Now the court will be headed by one of the judges whose powers have been preserved.
The current government, which came to power after the Velvet Revolution of 2018, considers the judges elected under the former government to be incapable of making fair decisions.
Attempts to dismiss them began last year. On this issue, a referendum was scheduled for April 5, 2020, but it did not take place due to the coronavirus epidemic. As a result, the Armenian parliament undertook to resolve the crisis in the judicial system itself – without a referendum, and already on June 22, the Armenian parliament adopted the draft amendments to the constitution.
According to the law, judges were nominated by the General Assembly of Judges, the government and the president – each providing one candidate, and the parliament voted on them.
The day before the vote in the National Assembly, MPs discussed each candidate.
Both opposition factions – Bright Armenia and Prosperous Armenia announced a boycott of the process. According to them, the protest is not related specifically to the candidates.
“You yourself know that we are challenging the process of adopting those constitutional amendments in the Constitutional Court, the consequence of which is today’s voting. Now you have complicated this problem so much that I cannot objectively vote for candidates whom I respect very much. Because you have started an illegal, unconstitutional process, ”said Taron Simonyan, deputy of the“ Enlightened Armenia ”faction.
MP of the Prosperous Armenia faction Naira Zohrabyan also spoke about legal problems. She noted that there is a tradition in parliament when the representative structure and its candidates meet not only with the MP from the ruling faction, but also with small factions.
“Since 2007, I have been in parliament and I don’t remember a single case when other parliamentary factions were ignored in this way,” Zohrabyan said.
The reason for the boycott of the opposition is that the previous composition of the Constitutional Court was beneficial to them, said Ruben Rubinyan, an MP from the ruling faction.
“We do not want the judges to be politically pleasing and pleasant to us. We want the Constitutional Court to be truly independent. “