Constitutional Court of Armenia
This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (October 2021)
|Constitutional Court of Armenia|
|Հայաստանի Հանրապետության սահմանադրական դատարան|
|Location||10 Baghramyan Avenue, Yerevan|
|Composition method||Elected/appointed by National Assembly with equal portion of nominations by President, Government and General meeting of Judges|
|Authorized by||Constitution of Armenia|
|Judge term length||Twelve years (not renewable)|
|Number of positions||9 members (including the President)|
|Since||12 October 2020|
The Constitutional Court of Armenia (Armenian: Հայաստանի Հանրապետության սահմանադրական դատարան) is the highest legal body for constitutional review in Armenia. It is a judicial body which is separate and independent from the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. It is responsible for supervising the constitutionality of laws and other legislative instruments. The law of constitutional court of Armenia is defined both in Armenian constitution and in law.
It was established in 1995.
In December 1988, a Constitutional Control Committee was set up under an amendment to the Constitution of the Soviet Union. The Law of the Union relating to this Committee also provided for creating a Constitutional Control Committee in each Republic of the Union, which never actually happened.
In 1991, the Armenian legislature considered setting up a Constitutional Court, although it never actually did so (two laws, namely the Law on the President of the Republic of 1 October 1991 and the Law on the Supreme Council of the Republic of Armenia of 19 November 1991, simply alluded to such a Constitutional Court). However, no law or amendment to the Constitution of the Armenian SSR was ever adopted to put this declaration of intention into effect.
The new Constitution promulgated by referendum on 5 July 1995 finally set up the Armenian Constitutional Court. The Law on the Constitutional Court was adopted by the Armenian National Assembly on 20 November 1995 and signed by the President of the Republic Levon Ter-Petrosyan on 6 December 1995. On 5 and 6 February 1996 the members of the Constitutional Court were appointed and the Court began operating on 6 February 1996, when its members were sworn in before the National Assembly.
In 2005 Constitutional reforms took place in Armenia. On November 27, 2005, the text of the RA Constitution (with the Amendments) was adopted by referendum. The amendments addressed the system of constitutional justice. Article 93 of the Constitution enshrined: “The Constitutional Court shall administer the constitutional justice in the Republic of Armenia.” According to Article 94 of the Constitution “The powers, the procedures of formation and activities of the courts shall be defined by the Constitution and laws." As a result of the Constitutional Amendments the scope of the persons applying to the Constitutional Court, as well as the scope of the objects of the constitutional control, was substantially extended, the Institute of the Individual Constitutional Complaint was established in the Republic of Armenia (Article 100 Point 6 of the RA Constitution).
Members of constitutional court
The Constitutional Court comprises nine members. Membership of the Constitutional Court is open to any citizen of the Republic aged 35 or over. The members (including the President) discharge their duties until the age of 65 (according to transitional provisions, namely Article 117, Paragraph 13 of the RA Constitution, the incumbent members of the Constitutional Court shall continue to remain in office until the age of 70 years). The National Assembly and the President of the Republic are jointly empowered to appoint members of the Constitutional Court. Five members of the Constitutional Court are elected by the National Assembly upon the recommendation of the Chairman of the National Assembly. The other four members are appointed by the President of the Republic, at his/her discretion.
This article needs to be updated. The reason given is: In 2019 judges proposed by the president have to be confirmed by the National Assembly. Article probably includes data before transition to parliamentary republic in 2018 (after constitution changes).(May 2019)
The President of the Constitutional Court is not elected by the members of the Constitutional Court. He/she is appointed from the Court membership by the National Assembly on a nomination from the Chairman of the Assembly. However, if the National Assembly fails to appoint the President of the Constitutional Court within 30 days after the office of the President of the Constitutional Court is vacant the President of the Republic must do so in its place. Persons fulfilling the following conditions are eligible for membership of the Constitutional Court: • citizens of the Republic aged at least 35 who holds electoral rights and does not have citizenship of any other country; • higher legal education qualifications or an academic degree in Constitutional Law at least 10 years of legal work experience; • command of the Armenian language. Members of the Constitutional Court may not be engaged in any entrepreneurial activity nor shall he/she hold any office in state or local self-government bodies not related to his/her duties, hold any position in commercial organizations, as well as engage in any other paid occupation, except for scientific, educational and creative work, which shall not hinder from fulfilling the duties of the Member of the Constitutional Court. The constitutional principle is that a member of the Court Constitutional Court cannot be dismissed. Decisions to dismiss a Court members must be taken by the person or body (i.e. the President of the Republic or the National Assembly; in the latter case, by a majority vote of the total number of Deputies) having appointed the member in question. Where such a question has been raised, the Constitutional Court must consider the case in the member’s absence, and must issue a conclusion- on the termination of the member’s office by a majority of at least two thirds of the Court membership (i.e. 6 out of 9). Once the conclusion has been issued, the actual decision on the Constitutional Court member’s dismissal must be taken by the authority having appointed him or her (although in fact no member of the Constitutional Court has ever been dismissed since its inauguration). The independence of the members of the Constitutional Court is guaranteed by their submission to the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court. It is prohibited to influence a member of the Constitutional Court, and anyone attempting to do so is liable to prosecution.
A court member ceases to discharge his/her functions when she/he: 1) Has reached the age of 65 2) Has died 3) Has had his/her citizenship withdrawn or has been granted a foreign citizenship 4) Has applied in writing to the body that has appointed him/her, requesting to terminate his powers and has informed the Constitutional Court of that appeal and at least in 10 days has reiterated his/her resignation. 5) Is determined by a Court of Law to be unable to work, missing or dead 6) Has been found guilty by a Court of Law 7) Has been appointed with a violation of Constitution, which was proved by a Court of Law.
On a conclusion from the Constitutional Court, members of the Court must be dismissed if they: 1) Have been absent for three times within one year from the sessions of the Court without an excuse 2) Have been unable to fulfill his/her powers as the Constitutional Court for six months member because of some temporary disability or other lawful reason 3) Violate the rules of incompatibility related to the Constitutional Court Member that are prescribed by this Law. 4) Express an opinion in advance on the case being reviewed by the Constitutional Law or otherwise raised suspicion in his/her impartiality or released information on the process of the closed door consultation or broke the oath of the Constitutional Court Member in any other way. 5) Are affected by a physical disease or illness, which affected the fulfilment of the duties of a Constitutional Court Member.
Powers of the Court
The Constitutional Court shall, in conformity with the procedure defined by law:
- Determine the compliance of the laws, resolutions of the National Assembly, decrees and orders of the President of the Republic, decisions of the Prime Minister and bodies of the local self-government with the Constitution
- Prior to the ratification of international treaties determine the compliance of the commitments stipulated therein with the Constitution
- Resolve all disputes arising from the outcomes of referenda
- 3.1 List item resolve all disputes arising from decisions adopted with regard to the elections of the President of the Republic and Deputies
- Declare insurmountable or eliminated obstacles for a candidate for the President of the Republic
- Provide a conclusion on the existence of grounds for impeaching the President of Republic
- Provide a conclusion on the incapacity by the President to discharge his/her responsibilities
- Provide a conclusion on terminating the power of a member of the Constitutional Court, detaining him/her, agreeing to involve him/her as an accused or instituting a court proceeding to subject him/her to administrative liability
- Provide a conclusion on the grounds to discharge the head of community
- In cases prescribed by the law adopt a decision on suspending or prohibiting the activities of a political party.
How to Apply to the Constitutional Court
- (THE LAW OF THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
- Adopted on 1 June 2006  )
- ART. 25. THE RIGHT TO APPEAL TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
- the bodies and persons determined by Article 101 of the Constitution shall appeal to the Constitutional Court in the order prescribed by the Constitution and this Law. Moreover, in the cases determined in Paragraph 6 of Article 101 legal persons are also eligible to appeal to the Constitutional Court according to Article 42.1 of the Constitution.
- ART. 26. THE CAUSE OF CASE REVIEW IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
- The Constitutional Court reviews the case only if a relevant application exists.
- ART. 27. THE GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE APPLICATION
- 1. The application is submitted to the Constitutional Court in written, signed by authorized person(s).
- 2. The application shall include:
- 1) name of the Constitutional Court;
- 2) name(title), the address (legal address) of the applicant;
- 3) required information on the representative of the applicant if the applicant is being represented;
- 4) article of the Constitution that gives the right to an applicant to apply to the Constitutional Court;
- 5) request submitted to the Constitutional Court and the arguments of the applicant with the references to the relevant articles of the Constitution;
- 6) List of documents attached to the application if such exists.
- 3. In cases determined by Article 69 of this Law the applicant is also obliged to submit to the Constitutional Court the receipt of the paid state duty in the amount prescribed by this Law or a motion of release of such a duty.
- For applying to the Constitutional Court the individuals pay the five times of the basic state duty and the legal entities pay twenty times of it.
- Based on the motion of the applicant the issue of release of the latter from the state duty is decided in the course of reviewing the admissibility of the individual appeal by the Constitutional Court based on procedures prescribed by the Law on State Duty.
- ART. 28. THE ATTACHED DOCUMENTS TO THE APPLICATION
- 1. The attachments to the application submitted to the Constitutional Court are:
- 1) power of attorney or any other document that certifies the authority of the representative;
- 2) the Armenian translation, of all the documents in foreign language, certified in the order determined by law;
- 3) official text of the argued legal act in cases of appeals regarding the issues determined by Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 100 of the Constitution;
- 4) other materials that the applicant finds appropriate.
- 2. After the admission of the application new materials can be presented only by the permission of the Constitutional Court.
Since the first year of its formation the RA Constitutional Court has become a member of the European Commission "For Democracy through Law" of the Council of Europe (Venice Commission). One year later, in October 1997, the International Organization "Conference of the organs of constitutional control of the countries of young democracy" has been established, the activity of which is coordinated by the RA Constitutional Court. And in 2000, when Armenia was not a member of the Council of Europe yet, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia was elected as a full member of an international organization "Conference of European Constitutional Courts". Yves Guena, President of the Constitutional Council of France, estimated this unprecedented fact very specifically: "The RA Constitutional Court is already a successful institution and it has become the full member of the Conference due to its active participation and numerous interesting and real proposals".
The organization of the Annual Yerevan International Conference, in cooperation with the European Commission "For Democracy through Law" of the Council of Europe (Venice Commission), has become a new tradition. Each conference was differing from the previous one by its actual topic and the large number of participants. And so, a large number of well-known and authoritative lawyers and constitutionalists participated in 15th Yerevan International Conference. All presented reports, discussions and analyses of the topics of the Conference have been published in the four-language International Almanac "Constitutional Justice in the new millennium" and are placed on the RA Constitutional Court web-site, which, by the way, is recognized as one of the best in the world. A special compact disk has been prepared by the Constitutional Court, where the Constitutions of 150 countries and their comparative analysis are included. The International Association of Constitutional Law recognized it as an important program and placed it on the web-site of the International Association. This unique program package translated into Russian and English is a concise material for constitutionalists and constitutional courts.
The RA Constitutional Court has elaborated a complex program of comparative analysis of the international official documents, where 1500 documents adopted by the United Nations and all international European institutions are included (in Russian and English). The studying, analyzing and decision forwarding processes of the experience of the European Court and the materials of the European Convention on Human Rights have already finished.
- Established in May 1990 by 18 Council of Europe Member States
- in 2014: 60 member states, including 12 non-European members and Kosovo, with a total population of more than 1.5 billion people
- 5 observer countries and 1 associate member
- EU and OSCE – the two international partners participating in the work of the Commission
- more than 500 opinions on more than 50 countries and 80 studies
- 250 seminars and conferences with dozens of courts and universities
- Over 3,000 civil servants trained in human rights and administrative law
- the European Court of Human Rights has referred to Venice Commission opinions in more than 50 cases(since 2002).
On 1 November 2013, the President of the Constitutional Court of Armenia, Mr Gagik Harutyunyan, in his quality of coordinator of the Professional Commission for Constitutional Reforms (hereinafter “the Commission”), and on behalf of the President of the Republic of Armenia, requested the assistance of the Venice Commission in the process of revision of the Constitution of Armenia. A Specialized Commission on Constitutional Reforms was formed by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Armenia as of 4 September 2013 based on the necessity for implementing the principle of the rule of law, guaranteeing the basic human rights and freedoms, for ensuring the complete balancing of powers and increasing the efficiency of public administration. Having analyzed the historic process of constitutional developments in the Republic of Armenia within the framework of systemic integrity, as well as its key peculiarities and the existing problems, the Specialized Commission on Constitutional Reforms considers it necessary to highlight the following main stages in terms of conceptual approaches. In view of the international constitutional developments and the Armenian constitutional culture, we have still not found safeguards for ensuring stable development of constitutional legal relations. As a constant and continuous process, constitutional developments have taken place in the international practice in line with the developments of society in the following main ways:
- Adoption of new constitutions;
- Amendments and/or additions to the existing Constitution;
- Consistent and coordinated constitutionalization of legal acts and the law-application practice;
- Adoption of organic or constitutional laws;
- Official construal of the constitutional provisions;
- Resolution of disputes arising between the bodies of government in matters of constitutional powers.
According to a 2008 source, the 2004 Law Republic of the Republic of Armenia requires bar admission in order for attorneys to practice law. Prior to 2004, there was no requirement for a unified nationwide bar. In 1998, following the passage of the first law on advocacy, the following bar associations were created: Union of Advocates of the Republic of Armenia (the latest incarnation of the Collegium of Advocates), International Bar Union, and the International Union of Armenian Advocates. The International Bar Union and the International Union of Armenian Advocates would merge into a single organization.
Library of the Constitutional Court
The library of the Constitutional Court was formed in 1996. The library is rich with juridical, scientific, and media materials, and is envisaged not only for the members and staff of the Constitutional Court but also for the students and all those who are interested in jurisprudence. In the library there are dictionaries, textbooks, collection of laws, books on the elections of state books on the elections of state and local power organs, on criminal, criminal procedural, civil, civil procedural, administrative law of the Republic of Armenia, Russian Federation, publications on human rights protection, history and theory of state and law of Armenia and foreign countries. Besides the juridical literature, in the Library of the Constitutional Court there are also books concerning politics, economics, culture, philosophy, sociology, as well as fiction. In the library the constitutions, laws on constitutional courts, and materials on judiciary and constitutional justice system of more than 60 countries exist. The library is periodically filled with new books and periodical press from Russian Federation and other countries. The remarkable literary fund of library makes the literature dedicated to the history of the Armenian Church and to the Genocide, as well as Parliament protocols of 1918–1920. The library has more than 5000 books in Armenian, Russian, English, French and other languages. In the library the alphabetical and systematic databases, subject card files are formed, the bibliographic work is done. The Centre of Constitutional Law has partially taken the work on preparation of text-books on legal topics, special methodical handbooks have been prepared for teachers, simultaneously, a handbook "Constitutional Review" of G. Harutyunyan has been published for students. Annually organizing the traditional Republican Students and pupils Olympiad "Constitution and Law" is the one of effective methods for a new generation to get acquainted with the principles of constitutional justice. 3 collections of the best pupils works dedicated to the human rights protection have been published. The Council of Young Researchers has been established in the RA Centre of Constitutional Law and library with the rich and newer literature has been established in the RA Constitutional Court. Close relationships have been formed with the numerous schools, thematic meetings have been organized. 55 monographs and 191 scientific articles have been published by the Constitutional Court members and the staff members, 48 reports have been made during International Conferences, and 17 International Conferences have been invited (with participation of around 155 members of constitutional courts of different countries and 52 international experts). 72 volumes of the gazette "Constitutional Court", 63 editions and 8 appendixes of the International Bulletin "Constitutional justice", 12 editions of the International Almanac "Constitutional justice in a new millennium" (published in four languages) have been published and forwarded to more than 50 countries.