Rule of law

The rule of law is one of the main elements providing wellbeing and protection in any society. While there may be loopholes in the laws of developing countries such as Armenia, the real challenges concern the application of law. Armenia suffers from corruption due to the selective application of laws, and citizens receive unequal protection under the law. The 2012 Freedom House report on political rights and civil liberties in Armenia says:

Corruption is believed to be a serious problem in law enforcement. A five-year initiative to combat graft, announced in 2008, has not made meaningful headway against the country’s entrenched culture of corruption… The judiciary is subject to political pressure from executive branch and suffers from considerable corruption. Police make arbitrary arrests without warrants, beat detainees during arrest and interrogation, and use torture to extract confessions.

Institutional weaknesses in the judicial and law enforcement systems produce abuses and violations of human rights during the investigation process and in courts. Most of the applications sent to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) from Armenia concern the 6th provision of the European convention, protecting the right to fair trial. The ECHR has issued rulings requiring the Armenian government to pay compensation to citizens who mostly suffered from abuse in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 3 (prohibition of torture) and Article 5 (the right to liberty and security).

Problems with the rule of law mostly concern the application of existing laws in the judicial and law enforcement systems. The investigative and pre-trial phases of criminal procedures are susceptible to corruption and police abuse, with lawyers having little power to intervene.

Throughout the whole process of investigation and trial, moreover, the role of lawyers is limited. Investigation bodies have the right to accuse any suspected person in any phase of investigation, which narrows the role of lawyers and weakens legal protections.


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