On 25 January, 2020, Mr Nikol Pashinyan publicly promised to “make a disproportionately strong counter-attack” against the President of the Constitutional Court, Mr Hrayr Tovmasyan, in response to the latter’s statement about his intention to sue Mr Pashinyan for defamation. This was followed by the famous story of “the pen”, however, the majority of the public regarded the “pen argument” offered by the Prime Minister as irrelevant, inappropriate and groundless. Afterwards, on 29 January, during the News broadcast of the Public TV Company, a video reportage on the criminal case launched against the President of the Constitutional Court was aired. It was prepared exclusively based on materials provided by the Special Investigation Service. The next day, on 30 January, Nikol Pashinyan posted the foregoing video reportage on his Facebook page and wrote the following: “Hrayr Tovmasyan cannot be President of the Constitutional Court and cannot have any relation to the Constitutional Court.”
Based on the aforesaid facts, “Path of Law” NGO states the following:
1. There is a direct causal link between the video reportage of the Public TV Company and Prime Minister Pashinyan’s threat on “making a disproportionately strong counter-attack” against Hrayr Tovmasyan. That “promise” was carried out through illegal instructions to the Special Investigation Service and to the Public TV Company, which, in a criminal-legal sense, is an appearance of a crime of power abuse (Article 308 of the RA Criminal Code).
2. The Public TV Company, financed by taxpayers’ money, should have presented comprehensive and objective information, whereas the video reportage on the criminal case launched against the President of the Constitutional Court was presented exclusively based on materials provided by the accusing party, that is, the Special Investigation Service, without presenting the stance of defense. As a result of the video reportage aired by the Public TV Company, the principle of presumption of innocence of Hrayr Tovmasyan has completely ceased to operate, which is also a gross violation of journalism ethics.
3. Three days after the story of “the pen”, the Special Investigation Service provided the Public TV Company with details on charges against the President of the Constitutional Court, whereas the investigation was in process. Thus, the requirement of Article 9, Part 7 of the Constitutional Law on the “Constitutional Court” (titled Immunity of Judges of the Constitutional Court) has been violated. It requires that the actions towards a judge in the scope of the criminal proceeding are to be undertaken by ensuring, on a maximum level, the confidentiality of pre-trial proceedings, the respect towards the reputation and independence of the judge and the judicial authority, by excluding any direct or indirect interference with the judge’s activities. Without questioning the legal knowledge of the Special Investigation Service, we feel obliged to point out that the Special Investigation Service acts exclusively in the context of a political order and for the sake of the fulfillment of a person’s ambitions, thereby discrediting the reputation and professionalism of law enforcement bodies.
4. Back on 24 June, 2019, “Path of Law” NGO announced that the encroachment against the Constitutional Court, started a few days before, contained corpus delicti of a preparation of usurpation of power of the Constitutional Court (Articles 35-300 of the RA Criminal Code). We feel obliged to point out that the preparation of usurpation of power has not terminated and, what is more, it has, as of today, turned into an attempt of usurpation of power (Articles 34-300 of the RA Criminal Code).
“Path of Law” NGO continues to be consistent and devoted to the protection of the legal and democratic nature of Armenia. To this end, we seek the cooperation of scrupulous and unbiased international stakeholders to react to these illegal and unprecedented developments of making the Armenian judicial system vulnerable to political interference and bringing it under the political control of the Executive, which challenges the very principles of a democratic state governed by the rule of law.