Mar 13 2006

STRASBOURG, MARCH 13, ARMENPRESS: The Council of Europe's Group of
States against Corruption (GRECO) has published its evaluation report
on Armenia, with the agreement of the Armenian authorities.

The report concludes that in Armenia corruption is considered a major
problem. The judiciary, the police, the customs service, the tax
inspectorate, education, healthcare, licensing and privatizations
are particularly affected. Despite the adoption of a number of
anti-corruption measures, shortcomings still prevail in the existing
anti-corruption legislation and its implementation, as well as in
the organization of the justice and law enforcement systems.

The existence of serious obstacles to collecting evidence,
depriving offenders of the proceeds of corruption together with
the almost total absence of significant results in prosecuting
and indicting individuals involved in serious cases of corruption
call for substantial efforts. In this respect, problem areas include
legislation on banking secrecy, special investigative means, training
for members of the law enforcement agencies, witness protection,
assets declaration and the anti-money laundering regime.

Immunity enjoyed by judges, prosecutors, parliamentary candidates,
members of electoral commissions and even candidate mayors and
candidates for membership of the council of elders (local council)
is also a matter of concern.

As for public administration, there is an urgent need for implementing
measures that deal with situations where personal/financial interests
or activities may raise issues of conflict or partiality with regard
to public officials' duties and responsibilities.

It is also necessary that public officials be informed and, above
all, trained on how and when to report instances of corruption,
or suspicions thereof, which they come across in their duty and,
to establish adequate protection for public officials who report
instances of corruption (whistleblowers) in good faith. The Armenian
legal system does not provide for corporate liability, so there is
a need to establish it for offences of bribery and money laundering
and to provide for effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions,
in accordance with the Council of Europe's Criminal Law Convention
on Corruption.