GRECO: Progress in the fight against corruption in Armenia
Photo: Gevorg Kazaryan, JAMnews.
The Armenian government has made some progress in the fight against corruption in the judicial system. This assessment was given by the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), which monitored the implementation of its directives in Yerevan.
Two years ago, having studied corruption risks among members of parliament, judges, and prosecutors in Armenia, the organization gave the government 18 directives.
The Secretary General of GRECO welcomed the fact that in Armenia, unlike other countries, the main focus was on the judicial system since reforms are primarily necessary in this sphere.
“Things are moving in the right direction at the moment. Changes in the judicial system are very important. It’s important that society knows and believes that a system exists that is devoid of all sorts of pressures. The glass is half full, but not completely filled,” said GRECO Secretary General, Gencluca Esposito.
Esposito named two directives of the organization which are vital to reduce corruption in the judicial system: the creation of a higher judicial body and a commission for the control of properties of officials.
Petr Svitalsky, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia noted that Armenia was provided with financial assistance to implement GRECO’s directives.
“We believe that GRECO performs very important work in Armenia from the point of view of our local projects. In recent months, a number of important steps have been taken in Armenia to strengthen the institutional and legislative framework to combat corruption. A law has been drafted to create a new anti-corruption body that will protect informants and expand the list of people filing declarations.
“The European Union welcomes these changes but, as you know, the main issue is turning these ideas into reality. The anti-corruption body will begin operating soon so the legislative changes will be tested in action. We hope that the citizens of Armenia will feel a change,” said the EU ambassador.
The Armenian Minister of Justice, David Harutyunyan, believes that some of the results accomplished via GRECO may not be felt right away – time will be needed.
“Particularly the declaration, or the fact that this year we have introduced a restriction on the implementation of cash payments for officials. Moreover, we envisioned very serious methods of holding people accountable. Over the years, we have managed to shut down this apparatus which has allowed us to bypass the law,” Harutyunyan said.
According to the Minister of Justice the new judicial code will solve existing problems in the system and, beginning in April, the Commission Against Corruption will begin operating.