STRASBOURG — The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has published a new report on Thursday urging the Armenian authorities to carry out “more comprehensive” reforms that would combat and prevent corruption among Armenian lawmakers, judges and prosecutors.
The Strasbourg-based Group specifically called for stricter rules for income declaration by government officials and their families. In that regard, it also stressed the importance of greater judicial independence noting that it appears to be particularly prone to corruption.
“Overarching concerns about the current system of state powers and public governance can only be addressed through a more comprehensive reform process,” reads the 66-page report. “It is essential that the necessary reforms are carried through without delay, with the support of various political and societal forces, and that they yield concrete and sustainable results.”
The report, based on an April 2015 fact-finding trip to Armenia by a GRECO delegation, recommends more powers for an Armenian state body that scrutinizes income declarations submitted by senior state officials and their family members.
GRECO specifically recommends that the rules on the acceptance of gifts by parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors, as well as on submitting regular asset declarations, on their control and enforcement be further developed and made more effective. Further improving the transparency of the parliamentary process, adopting a code of conduct for members of parliament, preventing circumvention of the restrictions on business activities by parliamentarians, are among other recommendations.
Many senior officials have attributed their and their close relatives’ wealth to lavish financial “gifts” received from unnamed individuals. The anti-graft body has not investigated the origin of those donations.
The report also recommends to amend existing procedures for recruitment, promotion and dismissal of judges and prosecutors, including the Prosecutor General, as well as disciplinary procedures. A deliberate policy for preventing improper influence on judges and prosecutors, as well as conflicts of interest and corruption within the judiciary and the prosecution service should be pursued. The immunity of judges should be limited to activities related to the administration of justice.
By the end of April 2017 the authorities of Armenia are to report back on measures taken to implement the 18 recommendations included in this report. GRECO will assess the effectiveness of these measures in a “compliance report” in the second half of 2017.