YEREVAN. – Time has come to carry out “surgical interventions” in the judiciary. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday stated this in his address at the government, and with respect to the judiciary in Armenia.
“Over the past one year, political changes which all of you know have taken place in Armenia, as a result of which a legitimate government (…) that enjoys the people’s trust, [and] a legitimate National Assembly that enjoys the people’s trust has been established in the country,” Pashinyan stated, in particular. “
“The events of the past one year, however, have been continuously demonstrating that a judicial authority that enjoys the people’s trust neither has been nor there is in the Republic of Armenia.
“Regardless of everything, it is apparent, however, that the [Armenian] judiciary’s decisions are profoundly untrustworthy to the public.
“The people of Armenia view the [country’s] judiciary as a leftover of the former corrupt system.
“But [the fact] that the judicial power [in Armenia] does not have the people’s trust means that it also does not have the sufficient legitimacy to function, which today is already an immediate threat to the normal life, stability, and national security of our country.
“From the very first day of being elected Prime Minister, I obligated [myself] to have no interference on the affairs of the judiciary power [in Armenia], and I piously kept this obligation to. But on the other hand, sadly, I cannot guarantee that the judiciary [in the country] is not being subjected to shady and unlawful influences; primarily by the former corrupt system, because those two systems are interconnected—with human, political, and other ties.
“Although it was stated at the highest political level that the fight against corruption is a priority to us, because of the lack of confidence in the judiciary, the efficiency of the work of the investigative bodies also suffers.
“Also, I was hoping that, realizing that their previous judicial activity and the system of values are inconsistent with the aspirations of New Armenia and do not give them the right to make judgments for the Republic of Armenia, numerous judges would decline from the status of a judge.
“Such a thing, however, did not happen. And I consider the current opportunity for the judiciary deserving of people’s trust to be used up from now on.
“And so, dear colleagues, time has come to carry out ‘surgical interventions’ in the judiciary. That process shall be expressed in the following: 1) All judges functioning in Armenia shall be subjected to vetting. (…). 2) All judges who have made court rulings with gross violations of the rights of citizens that [i.e., the violations] are confirmed by the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights shall resign, leave, or be removed from their office. 3) All judges who know in themselves that they cannot be impartial and objective judges shall resign (…). 4) Now the introduction of transitional justice mechanisms is already a vital necessity for the Republic of Armenia (…). 5) Corresponding legislative work shall take place at the National Assembly to bring to fruition this vital agenda for our country, and to have a truly guaranteed, independent judiciary in Armenia.
“Moreover, all of this work shall be done within the framework of cooperation with reputable international organizations in this domain, best international track-record, and the international obligations Armenia has assumed. (…) I hope [that] all our international partners will stand with Armenia [in this work].
“Time for a clear, trustworthy, and institutional solutions to the anticorruption fight also has really ripened.
“The changes that took place in Armenia are profound and irreversible.
“There cannot exist a judiciary [in Armenia] whose power does not stem from the people.
“As the Prime Minister of Armenia, I consider myself the guarantor of the people’s power in Armenia. And in order to guarantee that power, I intend to take necessary steps—including, if necessary, to petition for the immediate assistance of the people.
“And in this sense, I consider it appropriate to comment on the objective and meaning of my call to block the entrances of all the courts—without exception—of Armenia, since early morning today.
“The key symbol of this action is that there cannot be a judiciary in Armenia that does not have the people’s trust, (...) [and] the verdicts are made (...) on behalf of the people of the Republic of Armenia.
“And only such people who have an institutional right to speak on behalf of the Republic of Armenia—that is, of the people—can make those verdicts.”