President attends ceremonious event on Prosecutor’s Day
President Serzh Sargsyan attended a ceremonious event dedicated to the Prosecutor’s Day. Congratulating the prosecutors and the staff of the Office of Prosecutor-General (hereinafter Prosecutor’s Office) on their professional holiday, the President awarded a group of prosecutors and staff officers with high State awards and conferred upon them highest service ranks.
In his congratulatory remarks, the President touched upon the role, the achievements and the challenges facing the Prosecutor’s Office against the background of the redesigned relationship between the new system of public administration and State agencies. The President called attention to a number of problems closely related to the activities of the Prosecutor’s Office.
I am congratulating you all on your professional holiday. I want you to be successful and highly appreciated in your work. Please be sure to loyally serve your responsible mission. Your activity is extremely important to our State and society. It is equally responsible, since your decisions can change the fate of a person in the most direct sense of the word.
I also wish to congratulate your families. Without the daily support of your family members you would not have been as much successful in the exercise of your functions.
In a message addressed to the National Assembly of sixth convocation, I proposed a resolution that should serve as a guideline for all conscientious public officers, especially those representing the law enforcement system. I also suggested a new understanding of the law enforcement system.
For me, law enforcement has a bias on human rights. In terms of content, I consider them to be synonymous. If we want to ease the task of the human rights defender in Armenia in the near future, our efforts should be directed to a single goal, namely to achieving a qualitatively new standard in the protection of the rights of each individual, society and the State, as a whole. The pledge is the availability of a solid, powerful and collaborative law enforcement system based on the principle of the rule of law.
One of the pillars of such a system is of course the Prosecutor’s Office by virtue of its historically unique status, which is clearly articulated in the new Constitution of the Republic of Armenia. The OPG is supposed to be outside the three-dimensional power system, but at the same time, it should act as a unified single structure dealing with all branches of power through its own special powers and spheres of influence.
The Constitution has entrusted you with the task of being directly involved in the administration of justice, oversee the activities of different bodies, as well as to be serve as a check and a counterbalance with regard to specific State structures. You have especially to play a key role in the field of criminal justice. The legality of the pre-trial proceedings, the justification of the charge filed in the court, and sometimes the public’s perception of the fairness of judgments are also conditioned by your actions. And it is quite logical since the greater is the level of responsibility, the wider is the scope of possibilities; and, the greater is the latter, the stricter are the requirements set before the beneficiaries.
In this regard, I would like to pay special attention to some of the issues that are directly related to your functions, some of which are even subject to consideration within the legal process in international judicial instances. I am sure you understand what I mean: the European Court of Human Rights and, first of all, the validity of holding a person in police custody.
Undoubtedly, the court decision on choosing detention as a precautionary measure should be well-grounded. However, an important prerequisite is the availability of a qualified solicitation. It is here that the Prosecutor’s Office is a unique intermediate link between the preliminary investigation authority and the court un terms of solving two main problems: ruling out the submission to the court of obviously groundless solicitations, which sometimes merely file motions containing simple reproductions of the law and, at the same time, raising the quality of solicitations for which there is an objective necessity and sufficient grounds.
It is clear that I do not mean the amount of favorable considerations given to solicitations and the fact that judges are talking about the courts’ granting of over 90% of solicitations, which is too much by the way. There may be 100% court compliance with no justification, and there can also be 100% compliance with due substantiation, which I think would be the ideal scenario.
From the perspective of the respect of our international commitments, we are concerned about the failure to observe all the components of the fair trial. Particularly, I mean the need for the provision of counter-evidence by the key parties to the prosecution.
I think the prosecutors have much to do here. Responsible and honest service on this front may not only guarantee the realization of the fundamental rights of a person, but also ensure the fairness of investigation and rulings issued on each criminal case. From the point of view of the duration or delays in the investigation of criminal cases, the challenge of tracing the wanted persons remains relevant. I am convinced that in the frame of its constitutional powers, the OPG should pay ever more attention to such cases. In a bid to detect the suspects gone into hiding, you should collaborate closely and effectively with the investigative authorities and especially the police.
With all this, we can state that there is considerable progress in the activities of the Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecutors are becoming more prepared and more responsible. The prosecutors’ honest work gives a positive result. I am convinced that this is noticeable by both the officials who work with you and our society. It is can also be noticed in the annual programs of the Prosecutor’s Office. At the same time, I see some concerns about the annual reports of the Prosecutor’s Office. It is natural that the work of other State bodies may have a positive or negative impact on your activities. However, you should not assume the role of passive observers and limit yourselves to the problems identified in a specific area.
Talking about issues is not enough. That is not a solution to the problem. Any challenge should always lead to actions aimed at addressing it. This simple rule should always be applied in your daily work. When an official reports a problem to the supervisor and fails to suggest a solution or - what is better - solution options, leaving it to the supervisor, this means that both of them do not use their time and resources effectively. This is an unacceptable working style. We have no time to waste on this kind of practice. I think you have enough tools as part of your legislative powers to resolve issues or make suggestions for their resolution.
The opposite practice leads to indifference, which provides a fertile ground for abuses, corruption and eventually injustice. I have already had the opportunity to say that injustice is our number one enemy and we have declared war on injustice. In that war, we must defeat, neutralize any manifestation of indifference and eliminate any phenomenon of corruption.
You are the ones to assume key responsibility on the way to having a perceived, trustworthy and reliable law enforcement system. Your professional skills and the system of values are capable of guaranteeing that. If there are such individuals among you whose qualities and values are different, they either have to leave, or you need to disassociate from them. There is a third option, but it is rather a painful one not just so much for individuals as for the system.
An unfair and biased prosecutor is harmful both to the Prosecutor’s Office and the structure that remains within the range of influence due to the powers vested in the Prosecutor’s Office. In this sense, the struggle against injustice is a double-edged sword in the hands of the Prosecutor’s Office. It is difficult to say which side would suffer most from a prosecutor’s failure. Therefore, you should always be on alert. The weakening of your vigilance will weaken the whole system of human rights.
Our country has entered a crucial new era. Together we will build a new order of public administration. Before the April elections, we had set a task to show ourselves, and why not, to international community that we were firmly determined to organize elections that might comply with the best standards. It can already be stated that we succeeded. Indeed, there will be people with different opinions, but no one can deny that the elections attested at least progress in democracy and state-building efforts in Armenia. They also showed that our State is capable of responding to any such offenses as may accompany such processes.
Here, I have to underscore the important role to be played by the Prosecutor’s Office. With your active involvement of the Prosecutor’s Office, the law enforcement system demonstrated that it is capable of discussing any allegation of electoral violations by properly using the available resources. You managed to coordinate the process of solving the problems facing the law enforcement agencies, properly analyze the information at hand and promptly respond to any alert, even if it did not contain any serious offenses. Undoubtedly, this is an achievement, yet the Prosecutor’s Office has much to do.
Some may think that the role of the Prosecutor’s Office has not changed in the amended Constitution, but I think otherwise. I am convinced that the role of the Prosecutor’s Office is changing amid the revised relationship between the new governance system and public agencies. It is not bigger or smaller, stronger or weaker, it is simply unique. By keeping that peculiarity, you will have to instill confidence in others.
The Constitution has provided you with all the necessary and sufficient tools to increase public confidence in the Prosecutor’s Office and prosecutors. I do believe that the new law on the Prosecutor’s Office as drafted according to the constitutional amendments will provide additional safeguards to make your mission more effective. Also, I think that your future achievements and failures will be largely dependant not on the legal provisions, but on your attitude towards your mission and the quality of your work.
I know that you are facing many problems. At the same time, I want you to know that the State will back you in solving the problems and will try to make the prosecutor’s social role perceptible and visible. In order to achieve that goal, we must be sure that conscientiousness, honesty and professionalism dominate in the proceedings of the Prosecutor’s Office.
Naturally, social guarantees need to be provided to prosecutors in order to anticipate these key qualities. I feel that we have managed to solve the issue of pensions worrying many prosecutors, which has somewhat eased the system’s welfare-related bottlenecks. It partially solves the problem of human resources. We very much appreciate our experienced and unbiased officers. Certainly, we will not be satisfied with the current achievements and will try to tackle other issues that are necessary for the stability and security of the country. I am confident that after the adoption of the 2018 State budget law, you will see some change for the better in this respect.
I once again congratulate all of you on the Prosecutor’s Day. I also congratulate your colleagues who have been awarded high State awards and highest service degrees. I am confident that worthy people will always be appreciated in our State. I wish you good health and every success.
Thank you for your work, thank you for the work you are going to do in the future. I am just asking you to support the Government of the Republic of Armenia, support me on our way to eradicating any such adverse phenomena as are punishable by legislation,” the President of the Republic concluded.