The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Wednesday, refused to issue an “interim” injunction, as requested by the former chairman of the Constitutional Court of Armenia Hrayr Tovmasyan and three former judges, that would freeze the implementation of constitutional changes adapted by the Armenian Parliament.
The changes passed by the National Assembly on June 22, and implemented on June 26, stipulate that Hrayr Tovmasian must resign as the court’s chairman remain but remain one of its nine judges. They also mandate the replacement of three other judges who had taken the bench in the 1990s.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday, the ECHR said it has rejected the “interim measure” requested by the plaintiffs because it saw no “risk of serious and irreparable harm” to them.
The Court decided to reject the request as outside the scope of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, since it did not involve a risk of serious and irreparable harm of a core right under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The ECHR explained that the Constitution of Armenia, amended in 2015, provides for a 12-year term of office of judges of the Constitutional Court and a 6-year term of office of the Chairman of the Constitutional Court. However, the transitional provisions stipulated that judges of the Constitutional Court appointed before the entry into force of constitutional amendments would remain in their old positions until retirement, similarly, the President of the Constitutional Court should retain his mandate until retirement. Consequently, Armenian Parliament decided to amend the Constitution and establish a 12-year term for the judges of the Constitutional Court, regardless of when they were appointed, and to limit the term of office of the Chairman of the Constitutional Court to 6 years. A referendum was called, which did not take place due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the changes were adopted by parliament and entered into force.
The constitutional amendments, terminated the powers of Hrayr Tovmasyan as the Chairman of the Constitutional Court, as well as the powers of Hrant Nazarian, Felix Tokhyan and Alvina Gyulumyan as judges of the Constitutional Court.
“Although the applicants’ request for an interim measure has been found to be out of scope, it is still open to them to lodge an application and to pursue their complaints before the Court,” read the ECHR statement. “When required, the Court may decide to give priority to certain applications.”