PM Pashinyan chairs session of the Anti-Corruption Policy Council
YEREVAN, OCTOBER 28, ARMENPRESS. A regular session of the Anti-Corruption Policy Council took place chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, ARMENPRESS was informed from the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Council first approved the agenda of the session, after which the Deputy Minister of Justice Suren Grigoryan presented the implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and the execution of its action plan for the period of 2019-2022.
It was reported that within the framework of the accomplishment of the anti-corruption institutional system, a legislative package aimed at the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Committee was adopted by the National Assembly during the reporting period. For ensuring the launch of its formation, a competition for the chairman of the committee was held, as a result of which he a chairman of the committee was appointed by the Government decision No. 1479-A of September 16, 2021. At the same time, 30 investigators from the Special Investigation Service have been appointed to autonomous positions in the Anti-Corruption Committee, until the positions are occupied through competitive procedures. Works are underway to define the legal basis for the formation of the Anti-Corruption Committee's operative-investigative department. In parallel, work is being done to create office conditions for the Anti-Corruption Committee.
On April 14, 2021, the National Assembly adopted the Law on Making Amendments to the Constitutional Law "Judicial Code of the Republic of Armenia" and the related laws aimed at establishing a specialized Anti-Corruption Court. At the moment it is planned to ensure the implementation of the legislative acts.
In particular, within one week after the entry into force of the legislative acts, the Supreme Judicial Council will apply to the Government for approval to increase the number of judges: 1) in the Anti-Corruption Court by fifteen judges; 2) in the Criminal Court of Appeal by six judges; 3) in the Civil Court of Appeal by six judges; 4) in the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation by two judges. The Supreme Judicial Council will increase the number of judges within one week after receiving the consent of the government within five days.
The legislative package on the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Court includes the law "On Making Amendments to the Legislation on the Prosecutor's Office, approved by the National Assembly, according to which a separate division of the Prosecutor General’s Office will exercise control over the legality of pre-trial criminal proceedings of corruption-related cases , which will be created as a result of the reorganization of the Corruption Crimes Oversight Department within the Prosecutor General's Office, which has been functioning since 2019. An ethics structure is envisaged for the prosecutors of the mentioned subdivision. In addition, the law provides for structures to verify the ethical standards of candidates of prosecutors, including the for Prosecutor General and his deputies.
The following main works were carried out in the direction of prevention of corruption during the reporting period: as a result of the legislative changes aimed at improving the personal property declaration system, the circle of declarants has been expanded, the requirement to declare the property actually owned by a person and his expenses has been introduced. A requirment is also made for the declaration of property acquired in the name, for the benefit or at the expense of the declarant, but belonging to a third party with the right of ownership, as well as the property from which the declarant actually benefits or manages. The monetary threshold of expensive property subject to declaration has been reduced from 4 million drams to 4 million drams. The monetary threshold of expensive property subject to declaration has been reduced from 8 million drams to 4 million drams.
In order to identify the real beneficiaries of legal entities, a legislative package was adopted, within the framework of which an open and public register was created, a mandatory step-by-step requirement for identifying real beneficiaries for all legal entities operating in Armenia was introduced.
In order to reveal corruption crimes, a new Criminal Code was adopted, within the framework of which the corruption crimes were reviewed, the institute of criminal responsibility of legal entities was introduced.
Within the framework of the monitoring of the anti-corruption strategy, the Ministry of Justice compiled and published the report on the performance of anti-corruption strategy measures during the first half of 2021, in the framework of which the process of implementation of measures, public participation in those works, the circumstances hindering the implementation of the work were presented.
The Ministry of Justice has developed and submitted for public debates a draft amendment to the Anti-Corruption Strategy, which has also improved the current monitoring regulations.
In particular, a new monitoring procedure and evaluation structures have been established. With the support of international partner organizations, a new electronic monitoring platform is currently being developed, the launch of which will digitize the process of monitoring and evaluation, the process of preparation of reports by the Justice Ministry and the civil society organizations, the process of uploading and presenting information by the implementing bodies.
The next issue on the agenda was related to the issues recorded in the reports on the second compliance of the 4th phase of GRECO, and the fifth pilot phase of the OECD Eastern Europe and Istanbul Anti-Corruption Network in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. A report was presented on "A number of issues in the sidelines of transformations of law enforcement and investigation bodies under the anti-corruption reforms".
An exchange of views took place on the above-mentioned issues. Prime Minister Pashinyan instructed to form a corresponding working group, which will present to the Anti-Corruption Policy Council solutions to the issues raised during the reports in a brief period.