Citizen vs. State: The Role of Civil Society in Establishing Rule of Law in Armenia
The specific objectives of the project were: to promote the public accountability and responsiveness of administrative justice in Armenia by extending the public control over judicial practices; and to create mechanisms for legal support in citizens’ disputes with state institutions and authorities.
1. The Court TV Channel weekly programme . The project envisioned 48 TV programme releases with a re-run, totalling 96 programs. The production of a judicial TV programme based on real trials. (www.femida.am)
This TV programme on the litigation with the state is the first in its kind in Armenia. It aimed to raise public awareness of the work of the administrative court and empower citizens to exercise their right to appeal, explaining that the state is obliged to consider the interests of its citizens. Aired by the Second Armenian TV Channel, 30-35-minute weekly telecasts
2. Documentary “We and our state”. Public apathy and distrust has certain patterns of behaviour in Armenia – those rare individuals, who decide to fight for their rights, instead of being respected, are treated with a condescending irony. The film empowered those ‘don Quixotes’ and showed how they take determination to fight against injustice and defend the real or perhaps their imaginary law. After the screening in the main cinema in Yerevan the film was aired by the Second Armenian TV Channel and regional TV station Fortuna (Lory)
3. Monitoring consisted of two components:
- a survey of the population “What are the structures of power that the country’s population complains about and how to protect the interests of the citizens”
- development of legislative amendments and organizational proposals in administrative law, taking into account the claims made by citizens to the structures of power.
A package of legislative and structural changes in administrative law was developed and these proposals were submitted to the Ministry of Justice.
4. Training: Two seminars for lawyers were held. At one of the seminars, lawyers and public defenders (the free advocate’s office of the Chamber of Advocates) got deeper acquainted with the changes that are too frequent in the administrative legislation of RA and create additional difficulties for lawyers. During the second seminar experts discussed with lawyers the precedents in administrative court practice, developed by the Court of Cassation (supreme court).
3. The online forum (held partner – the Chamber of Advocates) provided citizens with an opportunity to address issues of concern to administrative and administrative litigation specialists and receive exhaustive answers in a short period of time. In an online forum, which advertised in the teleprogram, 9,678 users of the Internet came back, with specific questions – about 400 users.
4. Publication and dissemination of booklets on administrative justice
The project partner – the Chamber of Advocates has prepared and published two booklets for the public. The first booklet – “Answers to questions about pre-trial consideration of administrative acts”.
The Second Booklet – “Responses to Questions Regarding Administrative Acts”:
5. Meeting of lawyers with ethnic minorities in the provinces: Three meetings with ethnic minorities in the regions of Lori, Aragatsotn and Ararat. The problems of these minorities with local and state authorities were discussed. The rights of these citizens and ways of solving problems with the help of public defenders were clarified (free advocacy support to the poor layers of the population). Ethnic minority representatives were informed that, if necessary, they could receive legal assistance from lawyers and public defenders.