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Armenian PM calls for judiciary clean-up: What vetting envisages
2019-05-20 16:46:43

Lusine Vasilyan
Public Radio of Armenia

The announcement on vetting had to be made earlier, during months following the revolution, says London-based Armenian lawyer Artyom Geghamyan.

In an interview with Public Radio of Armenia, the lawyer explained what vetting means and what the process envisages.

Vetting is a transitional justice mechanism, which envisages background check and clean-up.  Vetting is often carried out, when countries undergo a process of transition and must determine what to do with public employees who perpetrated human rights abuses.

Vetting is the set of processes for assessing the integrity of individuals (such as their adherence to relevant human rights standards) in order to determine their suitability for public employment. Countries transitioning to democracy and peace often utilize such processes to ensure that abusive or incompetent public employees are excluded from future public service.

“First, we have to understand which vetting mechanism we want to apply. There are two mechanisms. The first lays the burden of proving on the judge, while the second tasks the vetting commission to do that,” said Artyom Geghamyan, Former Research Associate on Transitional Justice at Harvard University.

According to the expert, the first mechanism focuses on judges who have property inappropriate for the position they occupy, have allegedly executed certain orders, have been involved in corruption schemes or lack relevant professional skills.

“When opting for the first, judges should be given the chance to prove they are clean, to prove that the property they own is legal, that they have not been involved in any corruption scheme,” Artyom Geghamyan said.

According to the lawyer, in the second case the vetting commission investigates the case of every judge and decided whether he/she has been dispensing justice or not. The process requires huge professional resources and skills.

“We deal with the protection of personal rights of  judges and the integrity of the judicial system as a whole. Whichever option we chose, we have to realize that the functioning and independence of the judicial system must not be disrupted,” he stated.

According to Geghamyan, transitional justice and vetting are transparent processes that require broad professional discussion before implementation.

The comments come in the wake of a statement by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan that all judges should be subjected to vetting.

All courts across Armenia should undergo vetting, i.e. the public should be fully informed about judges’ political ties and origin, their property status, the activity in their capacity as judge and before that, their personal and professional qualities,” the Prime Minister said.

“The public should be fully informed about judges’ political ties and origin, their property status, the activity in their capacity as judge and before that, their personal and professional qualities,” the Prime Minister said.