Armenia has constitution without constitutionality - opinions

10:15 * 05.07.14


Since 1995, Armenia has been celebrating July 5 as the day of national
constitution.

Nineteen years ago today, the country adopted its basic law in a
nationwide referendum. Subsequent amendments were passed in 2005. A
concept of new constitutional reforms is now under preparation.

Larisa Alaverdyan, a former ombudsman of Armenia who now heads the NGO
Against Illegal Arbitrariness, says she believes that both the 1995
constitutions and the 2005 amendments were passed in somewhat
suspicious circumstances.

"The society remained with the belief that the constitution's adoption
was rigged as were the 1995 [parliamentary] elections. It is a very
regrettable fact that leaves its imprint on what we call
constitutionality," she told Tert.am, adding that she considers the
concept as demanded and actual now as it was in 1995.

Alaverdyan noted that despite all the shortcomings, the Armenian
society has developed a positive understanding of the constitution.
"The declarative - if not non-functioning - constitution has enabled
the the society's most active groups to gain experience, especially
after the 2005 [amendments] that broadened the mechanisms of
administering justice through the Constitutional Court," she added.

Gagik Jhangiryan, an opposition MP (Armenian National Congress) and a
former military prosecutor who was involved in the drawing up of the
1995 Constitution, said he doesn't think the constitutional norms are
being ignored in Armenia.

"The Constitution defines the guarantees of human rights protection,
but what can the people do if they are not enforced?"he said, when
asked to comment on the civic campaigns that often see the different
groups of the society standing up for the protection of what is widely
believed to be constitutional rights.

Chairman of the Helsinki Committee Avetik Ishkhanhyan said absolutely
all constitutions have two basic parts despite the different
philosophies.

"The first part is a declarative one which sets out prospects,
provisions regarding human rights etc. If we approach the question
from that angle, [the constitution] of more autocratic countries may
have a better wording," he said. "Hence the less declarative part,
which stipulates the mechanisms of government formation is much more
essential. So [the important thing] is to really be a democratic,
legal and social state rather than to be declared as such."

Ishkhanyan noted that some constitutions do not stipulate for the
separation of powers to ensure guarantees for an independent judiciary
and local self-government, whereas many others propose the medieval
monarchic government model (semi-presidential system).

"From that point of view, our constitution reflects the monarchic
philosophy despite the 2005 amendments. It proposes an authoritarian
dependence of the entire government system upon the president. And
that is why our society often makes references to the declarative
parts of the constitution," he said.

Asked whether he thinks constitutional reforms are now necessary for
Armenia, Iskhkahnyan he finds a change of philosophy more important.
"It has to be a public demand to make the authorities to adopt such
changes based on a consensus. What has been initiated today, in the
current atmosphere of distrust, gives me the confidence that the
authorities do not wish to make a separation of powers," he added.

Artak Zeynalyan, a co-founder of the local NGO, Rule of Law, said
reforms he finds reforms very important despite the absence of a
public demand. But he was unsure whether the proposed amendments are
in any way linked to Armenia's plans to join the Eurasian Customs
Union.


Armenian News - Tert.am




From: A. Papazian