"People's expectations of justice have not been fully realized" - Pashinyan
Pashinyan on the justice system in Armenia
“What is not institutionalized cannot be justice,” the Armenian Prime Minister said during a speech in Parliament about the 2018 Velvet Revolution and the expectations of the people of Armenia.
He asked himself the question, “What is the government doing to establish deep institutional justice in Armenia?” In his opinion, this question is answered by the 2024 budget, in which the government has outlined an increase in funding for the judicial system, in particular, an increase in the salaries of prosecutors, judges and investigators.
Judges’ salaries are being raised “for the sake of citizens”
Pashinyan compared the current year’s budget with the budget of 2018, when his team first came to power. He said that in 2023 the funding of the judicial system has doubled compared to 2018. In particular, the funding of the Constitutional Court, the Prosecutor General’s Office has increased, the salaries of investigators and judges have increased.
Prime Minister emphasized that these decisions were made by the government and the parliamentary majority, and all of them are of the opinion that reforms in the justice system should have an institutional character:
“We raise the salaries of judges, prosecutors, investigators not so much for their sake, but for the sake of the citizens to whom they provide services.”
In the list of steps already taken, Pashinyan recalled the creation of anti-corruption courts, the Corruption Prevention Commission and the Anti-Corruption Committee, and an increase in the number of judges.
“A citizen must be sure that if an injustice happened to him, he has the opportunity to restore justice through state institutions. This is extremely important from the point of view of the interests of the development of our state.”
“Armenian citizens still lack confidence in the inevitability of justice”
Pashinyan said the government is making great efforts, but still people do not have confidence in the inevitability of justice:
“This is a serious problem that has deep and objective reasons. For example, scenes of suspects being arrested with noise and noise, masks and guns, and then the fact that a few days later people see these suspects enjoying a cup of coffee in a cafe, causes cognitive dissonance in the public mind.”
He believes that investigative and operational bodies should rely more on verdicts when reporting on their activities, rather than on preliminary actions, the outcome of which is not yet known.
“A lot of people expected revolutionary justice”
Pashinyan believes that the people’s greatest expectation from the 2018 revolution was the restoration of justice and the eradication of corruption in Armenia:
“It is painful to state that expectations continue to remain in place, which means that they have not come true, at least not to the fullest extent.”
He went on that that many people expected “revolutionary justice: sentences in the squares, punishment of specific people in specific ways, what was called terror during the French Revolution.”
He explains that his team made “a revolution of love and solidarity” and promised that “there would be no vendetta.” In his view, justice must be done by institutions that are authorized and operate within the framework of laws and the constitution:
“Otherwise, one person can consider it justice to shoot another person in the entryway, another to break someone’s jaw, a third to take a share in someone else’s business, a fourth to take someone’s property.”
“There are no untouchable people in Armenia.”
The prime minister said that there are no untouchable people in the country, and this is his personal position and the political will of the ruling majority — that all people should be equal before the law:
“In order to realize this political will, it is necessary to create appropriate structures, a system of responsibility, so that the subjective perceptions of the investigator, prosecutor and judge have neither negative nor positive influence on the course and outcome of the criminal case.”
According to Pashinyan, this has not been achieved so far, as the solution of the problem is also connected with “change of thinking”.
The Prime Minister assures that over the past 5 years the government has implemented enough reforms and has gone for serious personnel changes:
“These steps were taken in order to have the right to expect that justice and fairness will become cornerstone institutions in the Republic of Armenia. Now the ball is already on the side of the institutions implementing justice.”
Pashinyan on the justice system in Armenia