Path of Law


Statement on the Election of Candidates for the Constitutional Court Judge

The process of filling the vacant position of the President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia has been going on since April 26, 2018. At that time, a call was made by the “Europe in Law Association” NGO (co-founder Vahe Grigoryan) stating: “To withdraw the president’s nomination of Emil Babayan as a judge of the Constitutional Court, not to vote in his favor and to initiate procedures that will ensure general and equitably transparent,public and fair election between the nominated candidates for the Constitutional Court.” This call has actually yielded results, in particular the MPs of the “Tsarukyan” and “Yelk” fractions of the National Assembly did not participate in the voting of the judge for the Constitutional Court, as a result of which the candidate nominated by the RA President was not elected.

Subsequently, 10 NGOs and 73 lawyers applied to the President of the Republic of Armenia with a similar call to initiate the process of selection and nomination of a Constitutional Court Judge candidate in a transparent and public manner, after which all three nominations by the RA President were preceded by an open competition of a certain procedure.

However, on May 31, 2019, two days after the rejection of Artur Vagharshyan’s candidacy in the National Assembly, Vahe Grigoryan was nominated by the RA President without any procedure. This raises concerns for the following reasons:

1) The procedure of nominating a candidate for the position of CC Judge, developed jointly by the RA President and civil society, has been nullified, and has again been returned to the exercise of the absolute discretion to nominate a CC Judge by the RA President in April-May 2018, which was then rejected. both by the political forces represented in the National Assembly of the current convocation and by civil society.

2) Based on the Article 21.1  and Article 23.2  of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 4 November 1950, and  the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe of 28 March 2012 following the requirements of the CM (2012) 40 guidelines on the Election of Judges for the European Court of Justice, as well as other relevant international documents, a Competition Commission has been set up by the President’s decree in 2014 on the principles of fairness and transparency for the purpose of holding a competition for the election of PACE judges. Given that the aforementioned international standards are by their nature also applicable to the process of filling a vacant position of a CC judge, no legal, political or other justification can be given to the low standard nomination and selection of a judge of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia even when a first instance court candidates for judges selection  is organized through a competition.

Moreover, the fact that in October 2018 Vahe Grigoryan was selected as a candidate for a Constitutional Court Judge based on the competition, gives no reason to argue that there was no longer any need for the CC Judge Candidate Nomination Procedure for the following reasons:

1) Compared to October 2018, the procedure for nominating a candidate for CC judge has been improved as a result of public demand.

2) After October 2018, the Office of the President of the Republic of Armenia has organized and held two more open competitions, in which Vahe Grigoryan has participated, but other candidates have been nominated to the National Assembly as a Judge Candidate.

3) Following the contests of the RA Presidential Candidate for the Constitutional Court, we can state that in each subsequent contest there were new participants, with the largest number of participants in the last competition (nine participants). It is therefore possible to conclude that in case of announcing a candidate for the Constitutional Court candidate, there could have been candidates who had not previously participated for objective or subjective reasons.

On the basis of the foregoing, we urge the political parties represented in the National Assembly to abide by the principle of conducting a transparent, public and fair competition for the candidacy of candidates for the position of Constitutional Court Judge, stated in May 2018, and not to re-vote in the Constitutional Court.

With respect,

“Path of Law” NGO