Session 2 of “Supporting Human Rights Cases through Legal Education” training

On December 17-18, 2011 “Center for Strategic Litigations” HR NGO conducted a two-day training entitled “European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: articles 5, 6, 10, and 11 and the procedure for applying to European Court of Human Rights in case of their violation”. The training was organized for advocates, practicing lawyers and Law students of Lori region, within the framework of “Supporting Human Rights Cases through Legal Education” project, supported by the US Embassy Public Affairs Section and the USAAA.
The aim of the training was enriching the skills of advocates and the lawyers regarding European Court of Human Rights and to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. About 30 advocates and lawyers had a chance to share their experience and obtain new knowledge regarding European mechanisms of human rights protection through having discussions about concrete cases.


During the training a real case that was litigated in national courts and was being prepared to be submitted to European Court of Human Rights was presented and discussed, which illustrated the violations of the 5th and 6th articles of the Convention. The participants shared with their experience and gave recommendations regarding the case. Within the frames of the project the specialists of the organization will also provide with practical assistance to advocates for preparing the cases litigated in national courts in order to submit to the European Court of Human Rights.


Analysis of Judicial Cases Initiated by HCA Vanadzor

On December 14, 2011, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor presented a manual noting the judicial cases initiated and conducted in 2001-2011.
The study was conducted by Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor and supported by Counterpart International-Armenia and USAID.
“Precedential Right in the Process of Practicing Justice”, the manual published by Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor, includes 20 judicial cases initiated by the organization over the last 10 years.
Chairman of HCA Vanadzor, Artur Sakunts, noted that the organization will continue initiating judicial cases and the publication of a second volume is also possible, which will include the 25 judicial cases currently in process.
He stated. ““We are not intending to replace the advocacy institutes; however we find the power of example as important for stimulating the advocacy institute.”
Chief of Party of Counterpart International Armenia, Alex Sardar, said: “Our approach is not to fund research, the output of which is books, which remain on library shelves and collect dust. One of the reasons we funded this project is that we are familiar with Artur Sakunts and Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor. We know that this kind of research will become a ‘’for future activism and further legal activity. Such activity should be accessible to a larger, non-specialist audience.”
President of the Strategic Ligation Center, human rights organization lawyer Edmon Marukyan, thanked HCA Vanadzor for its close cooperation and for supplying them with important precedential cases over the last 10 years. “HCA Vanadzor has played a unique role, as by acting like a filter it has received citizens, has filtered and selected precedential cases and has given them to us to conduct the cases; this is a very crucial role”. E. Marukyan added that the cases presented in the manual are those conducted by him, the lawyers of HCA Vanadzor and advocate Karen Tumanyan. Marukyan also presented 5 precedential cases conducted by him.
Referring to HCA Vanadzor vs. the RA Ministry of Defense, E. Marukyan said that this was one of the first cases when there was a lawsuit against the RA Ministry of Defense. The dispute was regarding the provisions of the Law on State and Official Secrets.
E. Marukyan said: “The significance of the court examination was that its continuation led to modifications in the list of confidential information, so as information that was previously considered confidential and unavailable through the courts, can now be obtained through a written inquiry.”
Director of “Arni Consult” LTD, lawyer and expert on the project, Ara Ghazaryan said that they had developed criteria for objective evaluations, which revealed what impact precedential right had on the development of domestic rights and legal practice, as well as to see whether violated rights were restored.
He said that they studied 20 judicial: criminal, civil, and administrative cases, which referred to violations of labor rights, assembly rights, the right to freedom of information, and other rights.
A. Ghazaryan stated that 4 of the cases (21%) had a crucial impact, 10 cases (50%) were important, and 6 cases (31%) did not have any impact; however none of the litigation had a negative impact. As to the restoration of violated rights, in 7 of the cases the right was completely restored, in 2 cases it was partially restored, and in 10 cases it was not restored.
Human rights activist and an expert on the project, Artak Zeynalyan, explained what strategic litigation is. He said that they select an aggrieved person whose situation corresponds to the criteria of strategic litigation and then they consistently proceed with the case to reach a favorable and purposeful act. The result of the strategic litigation can be a tactical victory as well. An example of that is HCA Vanadzor vs. the RA Ministry of Defense. HCA Vanadzor lost the actual lawsuit but the loss led to a situation when the MoD and other departments began to change their attitude towards issues related to state confidentiality. Although the Administrative Court did not wish to offend MoD and made an unfair decision, after that case the MoD is always more sensitive to HCA Vanadzor requests.
In terms of a tactical victory mentioned above, it is important to note that strategic litigation never has a negative impact.
Artak Zeynalyan added that it was time to develop criteria for strategic litigation in the society of human rights activism in Armenia and to document the experience for the precedential right to develop.


“Supporting Human Rights Cases through Legal Education”

Funded by:  U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section
Project Manager: Edmon Marukyan
Project Duration: Sep.15, 2011-Feb.14, 2012
Total Grant amount: 4,179.00USD

From September 2011 “Center for Strategic Litigations” HR NGO implements a project entitled “Supporting Human Rights Cases through Legal Education”.
The aim of the project is to assist the increase of number and improvement of quality of the applications sent to the European Count on human Rights from Armenia.
Within the framework of the project it is planned to conduct a training session for 35 lawyers and advocates practicing in Lori Region on the topics of “Introduction to the European Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” and European Court of Human Rights, “Procedure for applying to the European Court”, “Preparation of an application to the European Court”. The project also includes individual legal consulting of lawyers, establishment of a professional library, organization of professional discussions, launch “Center for Strategic Litigations” HR NGO based resource center for advocates.

“Monitoring of the implementation of recommendations of European Committee for the Prevention of Torture by Armenia”

Funded by: Counterpart International Representation in Armenia
Project Manager: Naira Khachatryan
Project Duration: November 1, 2011- April 30, 2012
Total Grant amount: 2.700.000 AMD

From November 1, 2011 “Center for Strategic Litigations” HR NGO started implementation of a project entitled “Monitoring the implementation of the recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture by the Republic of Armenia”.
The aim of the project is to monitor the implementation the obligations undertaken by the Republic of Armenia within the frames of “European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”, drawl of public attention towards the importance of public supervision mechanism active implementation.
Within the framework of the project it is anticipated to conduct comparative analyze of recommendations developed by European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the responses of Armenian government and to collect information from the respective Armenian institutions. By the end of the project it is expected to publicize a study on the effective implementation of the reforms mentioned in the government responses to the recommendations of European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.