ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE NEW PROCEDURE FOR THE FORMATION OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION12.07.2019
On June 25 the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia adopted in the first reading of the Draft Law of the Republic of Armenia (here in after also the Draft Law) on Amendments and Addenda to the Law on Prevention of Corruption presented by RA NA Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, which does not comply with the international principles of fighting against corruption and their standards. Hence:
1․ The draft law was not submitted for public discussion and had not even been published on the website for the publication of the draft legal acts www.e-draft.am, which clearly contradicts the principles of accountability, transparency and participation. The rapid adoption of a draft law without public debate is probably due to the quality of the draft; if the public debate was organized, it would not only withstand professional criticism, but also the apparent retreat of the ruling political force in the field of anti-corruption policy would be revealed.
2․ In this proposal, the governing political party abolished the competition procedure for the candidates for the Corruption Prevention Commission (here in after referred to as the Commission). Formerly, the adopted settings, the contest and the nomination of the most deserving candidates on the basis of the contest were under the control of the contest’s council, which was independent from the ruling political party. However, based on the proposed regulation, the majority of the Commission, including the president, will be directly nominated by the ruling political party (in the person of particularly the government and the ruling National Assembly) without a bidding procedure, turning the Commission’s “independence” into an illusion.
3․ The proposed changes by the ruling political party have substantially eased the requirements for a member of the Commission by eliminating the need for recognition, professional service, and age requirements, and, moreover, by reducing the total work experience by double. Thus, there is reason to believe that the ruling political party wants to entrust inexperienced people the most important function of fighting against corruption, as well as the vetting function of judges.
4․ The ruling political party, with the proposed changes, has taken away the power to terminate an “independent” Commission member ahead of time from the Commission and has given that right to itself. Thus, the ruling political party has set itself guarantees that the Commission will be in control not only at the stage of formation but also throughout its operation.
5․ Based on the proposed changes, the completely controllable, non-professional “independent” Commission have been entrusted with new political functions. In particular: (a) participation in the process of appointing to a public office (including judges), (b) participation in removal from public office (including judges). At the same time, the format of this participation is absolutely discretionary and not verifiable. Thus, the ruling political party on the one hand is now able to make the entire state system, including the independent bodies, controlled by another fully controlled body, on the other hand, the ruling political party “insures” its loyal officials from corruption disclosures.
We urge all the responsible authorities and officials to refrain from the obvious step backward in the fight against corruption.