An independent, transparent and accessible judicial system is a hallmark of the rule of law, and judicial reform has been a top priority in Armenia since its declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The 1995 Armenian Constitution established a structure for a new court system, and the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) has provided technical assistance for judicial reform efforts in Armenia since 1996, the year that the new courts began to function.
Armenia has seen significant positive change to its judicial system since the first phase of judicial reform began in 1995, with a second phase of judicial reform beginning when the Constitution was amended in 2005. To measure judicial reform efforts and analyze where further reform is needed, ABA ROLI published three volumes of the Judicial Reform Index (JRI) for Armenia in 2002, 2004 and 2008. In May 2012, ABA ROLI began implementing its fourth Judicial Reform Index assessment, analyzing the current status of trends reported in the 2008 JRI as well as significant changes that have taken place since 2008. Many new reforms have been implemented since 2008, including the entry into force of a new Judicial Code, the creation of the administrative court system and the introduction of a case precedent system that makes judgments of the Cassation Court and European Court of Human Rights binding in Armenian courts.
The JRI analyzes 30 factors characteristic of an independent, accountable and effective judiciary, examining local conditions and practices in light of internationally-accepted standards. The assessment team—led by ABA ROLI Senior Legal Analyst Jessie Tannenbaum and composed of local staff members Amalia Voskanyan, Arman Khachatryan, Alenush Kirakosyan and Narine Gasparyan—is conducting an in-depth analysis of the legal framework for the judiciary and is also holding interviews with Armenian judges and justice sector professionals to discover the de facto conditions and practices affecting the judiciary. According to the assessment team, the 2012 JRI is expected to reveal significant positive reforms, although challenges remain. Several reforms have targeted citizen access to justice, and Armenia’s courts have seen a corresponding increase in their caseload in recent years. Reforms have also promoted judicial independence from other branches of government, and many judges perceive their increased caseload as a sign of increasing public confidence in the judiciary. The JRI for Armenia, Volume IV, will be published in October 2012.
To learn more about our work, Judicial Reform Index or our other assessment tools, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].