ECHR has today notified a judgment on Manucharyan v. Armenia case

ECHR picOn 24 November 2016 the European Court on Human Rights unanimously held that there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 read in conjunction with Article 6 § 3 (d) of the Convention regarding Spartak Manucharyan v. Armenia case (Application no. 35688/11).

The case was brought to the ECHR by the expert of “Center for Strategic Litigations” NGO Tatevik Matinyan and Edmon Marukyan.

On 1 July 2009 criminal proceedings were instituted on account of the murder of K.S. who had been shot dead at 1.30 a.m. that day in the town of Alaverdi. The applicant presented himself to the police later that day, surrendered a gun and confessed to the murder. The applicant was charged the same day with murder and illegal possession of firearms. On the same date the police interviewed K.M., who was K.S.’s girlfriend and had been present at the scene of the murder. She stated that it had been the applicant, her neighbour, who, after yelling and swearing, had started to shoot at K.S.’s car moments after she had got out of it. On 3 July 2009 the applicant was questioned. He denied the charges and refused to testify. On 14 January 2010 the applicant’s brother, V.M., was killed. At an additional questioning on 9 March 2010, the applicant stated that he had confessed to the murder to cover up for his brother, who had a newborn baby and took care of their parents. The applicant stated that there was no longer any need to cover up for V.M. because he was dead.

The Regional Court thereafter held at least three more hearings – on 7 September, and 21 and 22 October 2010, each time making decisions to order the absent witnesses, including K.M., to attend. According to certificates delivered by the police on 20 and 25 October 2010, K.M. was absent from her place of residence when the police visited. The certificate of 20 October 2010 stated that S.M. told the police that her daughter was abroad. The Regional Court eventually examined the applicant’s case in K.M.’s absence.

On 4 November 2010 the Regional Court found the applicant guilty as charged and sentenced him to thirteen years’ imprisonment. The applicant is currently detained at Nubarashen Prison.

European Court on Human Rights ruling the violation also stated that … the absence of good reasons for the non-attendance of a witness could not, of itself, be conclusive of the lack of fairness of a trial, although it remained a very important factor to be weighed in the balance when assessing the overall fairness, and one which might tip the balance in favour of finding a breach of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (d). Furthermore, given that its concern was to ascertain whether the proceedings as a whole were fair, the Court had not only to review the existence of sufficient counterbalancing factors in cases where the evidence of the absent witness was the sole or the decisive basis for the applicant’s conviction, but also in cases where it found it unclear whether the evidence in question was sole or decisive but nevertheless was satisfied that it carried significant weight and its admission might have handicapped the defence. The extent of the counterbalancing factors necessary in order for a trial to be considered fair depends on the weight of the evidence of the absent witness. The more important that evidence, the more weight the counterbalancing factors would have to carry in order for the proceedings as a whole to be considered fair (see Seton v. the United Kingdom, no. 55287/10, § 59, 31 March 2016).

The court also held that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months of the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, EUR 2,400 as well as in addition, the Court considers it necessary to point out that a judgment in which it finds a violation of the Convention or its Protocols imposes on the respondent State a legal obligation not just to pay those concerned the sums awarded by way of just satisfaction, if any, but also to choose, subject to supervision by the Committee of Ministers, the general and/or, if appropriate, individual measures to be adopted in its domestic legal order to put an end to the violation found by the Court and make all feasible reparation for its consequences in such a way as to restore as far as possible the situation existing before the breach (see Scozzari and Giunta v. Italy [GC], nos. 39221/98 and 41963/98, § 249, ECHR 2000‑VIII; Ilaşcu and Others v. Moldova and Russia [GC], no. 48787/99, § 487, ECHR 2004‑VII; and Lungoci v. Romania, no. 62710/00, § 55, 26 January 2006). In the case of a violation of Article 6 of the Convention, the applicant should as far as possible be put in the position he would have been in had the requirements of that provision not been disregarded (see, mutatis mutandisSejdovic v. Italy [GC], no. 56581/00, § 127, ECHR 2006‑II, and Yanakiev v. Bulgaria, no. 40476/98, § 89, 10 August 2006). The Court notes in this connection that Articles 426.1 and 426.4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure allow the reopening of the domestic proceedings if the Court has found a violation of the Convention or its Protocols (see paragraphs 38 and 39 above). As the Court has already held on previous occasions, in cases such as the present one, the most appropriate form of redress would, as a rule, be to reopen the proceedings in due course and re-examine the case in keeping with all the requirements of a fair trial (seeGabrielyan v. Armenia, no. 8088/05, § 104, 10 April 2012).{“languageisocode”:[“ENG”],”documentcollectionid2″:[“JUDGMENTS”],”itemid”:[“001-168860”]}

Council of Europe urges Armenia to develop instruments to combat money laundering

n_94458_1The Council of Europe has urged Armenia to develop an effective national policy to investigate and prosecute money laundering in the country, as its experts have identified significant weaknesses in this area.
The experts put forth significant weaknesses in the investigation and prosecution of money laundering in Armenia and have urged the authorities to take immediate action to ensure that law enforcement efforts are fully commensurate with the money laundering risks faced by the country.
Overall, however, Armenia has made adequate progress in establishing a sound legal framework, while the financial sector was found to be effective in the application of preventive measures, according to a report on Armenia from the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL).
It said the mechanisms for detecting and preventing the financing of terrorism and proliferation were to a large extent effective, while fraud, tax evasion, contraband and embezzlement posed the highest threats in terms of money laundering.
The Council of Europe’s report, which analyzed the implementation by Armenia of international standards on money laundering and terrorist financing since the last evaluation in 2009, stated the banking and real estate sectors were the most vulnerable to money laundering within the Armenian economy.
Financial intelligence was reported to have been gathered “very effectively,” but law enforcement did not often make effective use of it to develop evidence, trace, seize and confiscate criminal proceeds from money laundering.

Report might be downloaded here: MONEYVAL(2015)34_5thR_MER_Armenia

ECHR has today notified a judgment on Ghuyumchyan v. Armenia case

ECHRThe experts of “Center for Strategic Litigations” NGO took the complaint of Mr. Ghuyumchyan to ECHR and worked hard on the case. Today ECHR made a judgment on the case.

The applicants case are the son (the first applicant), the daughter-in-law (the second applicant) and the wife (the third applicant) of Garegin Ghuyumchyan, now deceased. They were born in 1965, 1973 and 1947 respectively and live in Vanadzor, Armenia. This case concerned the applicant’s complaint that they had been deprived of access to court since they could not afford to hire an advocate. In the first case the late Garegin Ghuyumchyan and his wife Gyulnaz Ghuyumchyan ran a small family business. In July 2002 Garegin Ghuyumchyan was charged with bribe-taking. In September 2002 the charges were dismissed for lack of evidence, and in 2004 the family sold the business. In October 2004 Garegin Ghuyumchyan instituted proceedings seeking compensation for wrongful prosecution. The first and second applicants joined the proceedings. Garegin Ghuyumchyan was not represented during these proceedings. His claim was allowed in part. He appealed and ultimately the Court of Cassation refused to consider his appeal on points of law on the ground that it had not been lodged by an advocate licensed to act before it, as required by the domestic law.

Relying in particular on Article 6 § 1 (access to court) of the European Convention on Human Rights, the applicant complained that they had been denied access to the Court of Cassation as they could not afford the services of a licensed advocate.

Violation of Article 6 § 1 (access to court) – in respect of Vahan Ghuyumchyan (the son of Garegin Ghuyumchyan) Just satisfaction: 3,600 euros (EUR) each to Vahan Ghuyumchyan in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

The chairperson of CSL NGO held a presentation during seminar on Strategic Litigation – study visit to the Council of Europe from the Kyrgyz Republic

123On July 10, 2015 Tatevik Matinyan acting as a Venice Commission expert at the meeting of the Council of Europe and shared her expertise (holding a presentation and acting as a panelist) in strategic litigation for the benefit of a group of NGO representatives from Kyrgyzstan traveled to Strasbourg, France, for a seminar on the topic of Strategic Litigations between 8 and 11 July 2015, organised by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

She presented the theory of planning and conducting strategic litigations supported by cases implemented by the experts of CSL. The presentation was followed by question/answer penal where Mrs. Matinyan also shared with the professional experience and advice on how to make strategic litigations a very effective tool for human rights organizations.

In accordance with the press release made by the Venice Commission representatives of NGOs, academia and journalists of the Kyrgyz Republic learned about the experience from several European countries on strategic litigation as well as about the Venice Commission’s practice of amicus curiae briefs. Strategic litigation is bringing carefully-selected public interest cases – often human rights cases – to a court on behalf of an individual, where the goal is to promote the interests of a wider group.
This seminar was a part of a study visit to the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights, which enabled the participants to follow closely the work of the Venice Commission, the Parliamentary Assembly, judges and lawyers of the ECtHR and other parts of the Council of Europe.
These events were organised jointly with the UNDP office in Bishkek in the framework of the project “Support to the Kyrgyz authorities in improving the quality and efficiency of the Kyrgyz Constitutional justice system” with funding provided by the European Union.