Pashinyan vs. Pashinyan - this is how one can describe the current state of relations between the European Court of Human Rights and the Armenian Government.
In January 2019 the Court sent a inquiry to the Armenian government under a case of complaint it received from opposition politician Nikol Pashinyan back in 2010. Now he heads the cabinet, which has to answer the questions.
Pashinyan then complained of persecution and insisted that his imprisonment in 2008 was politically motivated.
The European Court now asks the government to clarify whether the applicant's detention was compatible with the requirements of the relevant article of the European Convention on Human Rights and whether the right to freedom of expression and assembly were not violated by the initiation of criminal proceedings and his further conviction.
The government is now expected to express an opinion. International law expert Ara Ghazaryan believes the government cannot be objective, no matter how hard it tries. According to him, the only option is to refuse from the complaint.
“Any response the government sends to the European Court, will also be sent to physical entity Pashinyan and will thus create a conflict of interests,” he says.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has already refused from moral and material compensation and will not file such a claim at the next stages of the investigation. However, Pashinyan is not going to give up the complaint.
Lawyer Vahe Grigoryan considers that Pashinyan will insist on his demands, considering that the case directly relates to the full context of the events of March 1, 2008.
He believes that revealing the truth on the case is “crucial for the democratic future of Armenia and the formation of a stable culture of human rights and freedoms.”
Ara Ghazaryan says the Prime Minister’s refusal from the application will not be a great loss, considering that there are other March 1-related cases pending in the European Court, which raise the same issues.
Meanwhile, lawyer Ruben Melikyan does not see the refusal from the complaint as a way out. Melikyan, who previously worked as Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender, believes the situation is an exceptional opportunity for Armenia to set a precedent.
“This is a unique opportunity to work out a mechanism and actually create a precedent for the whole Council of Europe family,” he says.
Ruben Melikyan considers that the government should refuse from the standard procedure of instructing the Ministry of Justice to formulate an answer. He offers signing a contract with a reputable law office, which will be obliged to present a position on behalf of Armenia.
The situation is exceptional also because at a time the ECHR addresses questions to former opposition politician and current Prime Minister regarding March 1 events, it receives a complaint from Robert Kocharyan, who was the President at a time the events unfolded.
A complaint of Armenia’s first President Levon Ter-Petrosyan is also pending at the Court. Thus, three of the four leaders of independent Armenia have sought justice at the European Court of Human Rights.
Ten were killed in March 1 unrest that followed the presidential elections in Armenia in February 2008.