JOINT APPLICATION-STATEMENT BY SIRANUSH SAHAKYAN, ELINAR VARDANYAN AND LUSINE SAHAKYAN04.10.2019
“Path of Law” NGO’s co-founder, lawyer Siranush Sahakyan, lawyer Lusine Sahakyan and member of the group “Alternative Projects”, lawyer Elinar Vardanyan addressed a letter to the three factions representing the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia with the request to set up a temporary committee for ethics of the NA. The basis of the application is the statement made by the deputy A. Kocharyan on October 2, which contradicts the rules of ethics.
See the full text of the application below.
“On October 2, 2019, Andranik Grigory Kocharyan (013), a member of the” My Step” faction of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia gave an interview to 1in.am, during which he referred to the criticism voiced by former Minister of Justice Arpine Hovhannisyan, saying that “the lady has been the minister of justice of our country for some time. She has to speak based on facts, and can conventionally give the names of her mother, her unknown father and others… ” (italic is ours) (link: https://youtu.be/qG_Mwk3KlbM (7: 25-7: 33)).
In other words, Mr. A. Kocharyan makes a factual (and not evaluative) public judgment in the irrelevant context that Arpine Hovhannisyan’s “father is unknown”.
The next day of that publicly criticized statement, on October 3, when A.Kocharyan was giving explanations regarding his statement, he announced that he was not going to apologize to Arpine Hovhannisyan, and, moreover, was willing to give the necessary explanations to Arpine Hovhannisyan’s father directly, if the latter wishes to meet with him (link https://youtu.be/SPv8Gt3xEMI (2:58-3:11)). Meanwhile, even assuming that on October 2 Mr. Kocharyan did not know that Arpine Hovhannisyan’s father had passed away a long time ago, he certainly had all reasonable chances to get public information by October 3.
Pursuant to Article 4 Part 1.4 of the RA Constitution on “ The Regulations of the National Assembly “, a deputy is obliged to maintain the rules of parliamentary ethics. According to Article 3, Part 2 of the RA Law on “The Guarantees for the Activity of a Deputy of the National Assembly”, “The Rules of Parliamentary Ethics are:
2) to respect the moral norms of the society
6) to promote confidence and respect towards the National Assembly through his/her activities;
7) to demonstrate behavior appropriate for an MP, wherever it is and in whatever activity he/she is engaging
8) to show respect towards political opponents․:
A. Kocharyan’s statements cited above violate the parliamentary ethics stated in the mentioned code, part 2, articles 2,6,7 and 8 (to respect the moral norms of the society; to promote confidence and respect towards the National Assembly through his/her activities;to demonstrate behavior appropriate for an MP, wherever it is and in whatever activity he/she is engaging; to show respect towards political opponents), based on the following arguments :
- A. Kocharyan’s statement was personalized and referred to a specific person, Arpine Hovhannisyan.
- Although Arpine Hovhannisyan, being a public figure, should have a reasonable expectation of public criticism, that criticism has limits and should not grossly violate legitimate constitutional interests (on one hand freedom of speech, on the other hand, dignity, personal privacy and privacy of family life). A. Kocharyan’s speech grossly violated that balance because (a) it did not directly or indirectly relate to Arpine Hovhannisyan’s former work as an official, or currently as president of a human rights NGO, public activities,(b) it related to a scope that is clearly within the confidentiality of personal and family life; (c) it related to an issue that is clearly outside the scope of Arpine Hovhannisyan’s will; (d) it directly related to one person, Arpine Hovhannisyan’s father, who never was a public figure (e) although the context of A. Kocharyan’s statement was a reaction to Arpine Hovhannisyan’s criticism, the latter’s criticism in no way had the characteristics described in points (a) to (d), and therefore A. Kocharyan’s statement was an obviously inadequate response to the criticism directed to him.
- A. Kocharyan is not only a deputy but also heads the most important standing committee – the NA Standing Committee on Defense and Security.
- A. Kocharyan had the the opportunity to apologize and thus try to settle the situation, but instead, on the following day of that statement, he called a long-dead person for clarification.
- A. Kocharyan’s statement has been widely criticized by many public figures, which further justifies the phrase being out of the public’s moral norms.
- Taking into account the above justifications, we request you to make use of the right set forth in Article 16 (2) of the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia and to submit to the National Assembly for discussion the draft decision on the establishment of an ad hoc committee on ethics. “
Taking into account the justifications provided above , we request you to use the right set forth in Article 16 (2) of the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia and to submit to the National Assembly for discussion the draft decision on the establishment of an ad hoc committee on ethics”.