Project Citizen vs. State: The Role of Civil Society in Establishing Rule of Law in Armenia funded by the European Union

The project aims to contribute to development of the civil society’s capacity to promote functioning rule of law in Armenia. For that, it has two specific objectives: (1) promoting the public accountability and responsiveness of administrative justice in Armenia by extending the public control over judicial practices; and (2) creating mechanisms for legal support in citizens’ disputes with state institutions and authorities. Thus, the project follows human rights-based approach to development in its methodology. The first specific objective will be pursued through increasing public awareness of the work of the Administrative Court and the right to appeal. It is hoped that this will increase the public participation and support of both the right holders and duty bearers to the functioning rule of law in Armenia. The second specific objective is to be achieved by creating innovative legal support mechanisms.

The project is comprised of four segments: (1) Court TV Channel weekly programme, (2) Public Dialogue (3) Monitoring (4) Training of advocates, students of law .

1. TV show will aim 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-minute weekly telecasts will include court reports, short interviews with experts.

2. Public dialogue: 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 will empower those ‘don Quixotes’ and show how they take determination to fight against injustice and defend the real or perhaps their imaginary law. Explaining what the citizenship means to them, it will build the viewers’ empathy. After the screening in the main cinema in Yerevan, a public discussion will be held. The film and the discussion will be aired by the Second Armenian TV Channel and regional TV stations.

In this segment of the project, the Chamber of Advocates will conduct outreach to ethnic minority communities, publish posters, disseminate booklets, and moderate an online forum. Answering the questions and facilitating exchange of ideas on how to make the administrative justice more accessible, fair and efficient, lawyers will compile recommendations for the TV show. The forum will be advertised in press and during telecasts.

3. Monitoring will aim to explore the content of citizens’ complaints related to customs and tax services, the police, cadastre and local authorities, analyse the results of adjudications and assess their impact on the improvement of operations of the state institutions. It is known that services such as tax, customs, and cadastre continue their illegal actions against citizens ignoring the judgements on those cases.

4. Training: Judges of administrative court cooperated with experts from Germany, and two seminars were held for advocates, students  and journalists.