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European Court Issues Ruling Against Armenia

The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday issued a ruling in the case of Vardanyan and Nanushyan v. Armenia, which concerned the alienation of the applicants’ private property by eminent domain; the ECHR ruling recognizes that Armenia has violated the applicants’ right to fair trial, as well as that to respect for private and family life.

The applicants, spouses Yuri Vardanyan and Shushanik Nanushyan, and their son, Artashes Vardanyan, are former residents of a house on Yerevan’s Byuzand street who argued that they were arbitrarily deprived of their plot of land and house “in the scope of alienation of private property for public purposes” and were only paid 54 million drams in compensation; the market value of the plot, meanwhile, was AMD 276 million at the time of alienation.

The family also claimed that they were denied a fair trial in the ensuing proceedings and that the Armenian courts had violated the principle of the finality of judgments. The applicants, specifically, complained that the judge presiding over the Cassation Court hearings regarding the land, Armen Mkrtumyan, had not been impartial, as he had tried on multiple occasions to convince Yuri Vardanyan to sign a settlement agreement. On one occasion, the judge even went as far as to say that he was giving Vardanyan “this one last chance” to settle. 

The ruling upholds the applicant’s complaint, stressing that “the judge’s conduct, lacking in the necessary detachment demanded by the principle of judicial neutrality, raised an objectively justified fear that he lacked impartiality when deciding the applicant’s case.” 

The ECHR has called on Armenia’s government and the applicants to submit written observations on the amount of damages to be awarded to the applicant and, to notify the Court of any agreement that they may reach. Note, in their complaint, the applicants had demanded that Armenia pay them about 11 million euros for the plot of land, and about 1 million euros for the house.