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Do Not Provide Armenian Judges with US Entry Visa, Says Human Rights Group

The Yerevan-based Helsinki Association for Human Rights has appealed to US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern in writing, requesting that several Armenian judges not be granted entry visas to the United States. Helsinki Association president Mikael Danielyan and attorney Gayane Khachatryan informed Epress.am that these judges and prosecutors have permitted numerous gross procedural violations in several criminal cases in recent years, the victims of which to whom the Association was providing legal assistance.

In the letter to Ambassador Heffern, the Helsinki Association notes that the courts and state prosecutors are not objective and through their indifference and inaction, ignore the many complaints of clearly trumped-up charges that allow for longer prison sentences.

“This proves that reform of Armenia’s judicial system is [merely] a formality. Republic of Armenia judges, though from time to time undergo training in such juridical countries as the United States, continue to fulfill the orders of the prosecution and operate according to the unwritten rule ‘the prosecution always knows best’ and are not guided by the principles of the RA Constitution, criminal law and procedure,” said Khachatryan, presenting an extract from the letter, copies of which were sent to RA Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepyan and the RA Council of Justice.

According to Danielyan, considering the fact that the US government has large investments in the reforms carried out in Armenia’s judicial system, a question arises: Do these funds serve their purpose?

“The Helsinki Association has repeatedly raised the need for various sanctions against the Armenian authorities. That is why, as a precautionary measure, we are suggesting that the following judges be refused an entry visa to the US, who directly through their actions damage and hinder the implementation of democratic reforms in Armenia,” reads the letter, which lists the names of the following judges:

Mesrop Makyan, Court of General Jurisdiction of Kotayk Region;
Suren Kostanyan, Court of General Jurisdiction of Shengavit Administrative District of Yerevan;
Artur Mkrtchyan, Court of General Jurisdiction of Arabkir and Kanaker-Zeytun Administrative Districts of Yerevan; and
Criminal Court of Appeal judges Grisha Melik-Sargsyan, Henrik Adamyan, Gagik Avetisyan, Eva Darbinyan and Sergei Chichoyan.