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Yerevan Court to Hear Appeal Against ‘1000 Drams Law’

The Kentron and Nork Marash district court in Yerevan will on July 12 hear an appeal filed by the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor office (HCAV) seeking the return of the 1000 drams that working Armenian citizens have been mandatorily contributing since January 1, 2017, to a fund financing military benefits program. According to the applicant, the recently adopted law «On Compensation of Damages Caused to the Life or Health of Servicemen During the Protection of Republic of Armenia», which envisages the aforementioned payments, “violates property rights, is anti-constitutional, anti-legal and discriminatory.”

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, HCAV head Artur Sakunts dubbed the the law “an unreasonable means of enrichment.”

“These 1000 drams are a part of our property since, according the judicial precedents of the European Court of Human Rights’ case law, a person’s salary is his/her property. This is the main norm, on which further substantiation of the claim is based,” Sakunts said.

The 10th article of the law, he went on, introduces the concept of a “stamp fee,” which contradicts the definitions of the terms “tax” and “duty” in the Constitution. A tax is an obligatory payment for ensuring the financial means of the public authority, and a duty is for territorial self-government. Meanwhile, the payer does not receive any services in return for the “stamp fee” introduced in the “1000 Drams Law”

According to the applicants, the law is also discriminatory because it only envisages benefits for soldiers killed or wounded after January 1, 2017; meanwhile, the state has a positive obligation to all servicemen.

HCAV intends to also file an appeal with the Constitutional Court, and if the appeal is not granted, they will go straight to the European Court of Human Rights.

“We realize that the country has a shortage of financial means, but it cannot serve as an excuse for resolving the issue by anti-legal methods. We have an oligarchy, shadow funds – 500 million dollars. Instead of taking measures to change the situation and introducing a much needed policy, [the authorities] are imposing a new tax on the people,” Sakunts argued.