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Zaruhi Mejlumyan

Information Deficiency: Public in Armenia Knows Little Regarding Foreign Grants Received by Government

Hetq is investigating what grants Armenia has received in the past five years as part of the European Union-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in 1996. Our aim is to reveal just how transparent the process of spending these funds is. We’ve looked at all sectors of the Armenian government. Below is the first part of our investigation.

European Union assistance to Armenia includes, among others, implementing reforms in the legal, justice, governance, democracy and human rights sectors. The following questions remain – what specific programs have been achieved with these funds, has the public been informed regarding these programs, and how have the funds been spent. To get some answers, we made inquiries at relevant government agencies.

Hetq is still waiting to hear back from the agencies we wrote to. Forty days have passed since the government, in its September 18 reply, said that it needed additional time to collect such data.

Police Department – Says It Has No Data

Armenia’s Police cooperates with the European Union under the auspices of the Armenia-EU European Neighbourhood Policy (2004). According to information received from the Police, training courses have been organized, police employees have attended seminars, conferences and meetings in Armenia and overseas. In addition, issue-oriented training courses, conducted by invited international experts, have been organized for police employees by EU legal advisers.

An Armenian Police delegation attends a three day international expertise exchange seminar in Prague

As part of the European Partnership program, the European Commission initiated an “Action Program for Police Cooperation with Armenia; 2015-2017” during with training courses and educational visits, with the participation of international experts, will be held.

However, Armenia’s Police say they have no data regarding the financing amounts of these programs. The Police also have no information as to whether financial reports of these programs have ever been published.

Prosecutor General’s Office – No EU Funds Received

The Prosecutor General’s Office told Hetq it has received no grants from foreign states, the EU, or any international organization in the past five years.

Ministry of Justice – Numerous Programs Implemented With EU Financing

From 2009-2011, the ministry conducted the Support for Access to Justice in Armenia program with EU funding. The total budget of this program, designed to strengthen the rule of law and defense of human rights, is 18 million Euros.

Component 2 of the above program, designed to support the improvement of training and education of judges and court personnel, according to Armenia’s legal and judicial reform strategic program, has been scheduled for 2014-2016. The overall budget is estimated at 29 million Euros.

From 2014-2016, the “Strengthening of the Independence and Professionalism and Accountability of Armenia’s Justice System” program will be carried out at a cost of 1.669 million Euros, of which 1.5 million has been allocated by the EU. The Council of Europe is the co-financier.

Launch of the “Strengthening of the Independence and Professionalism and Accountability of Armenia’s Justice System” program

During 2011-2014, the justice ministry implemented a program called “Promoting a Modern Governance Justice Access Agenda for Juveniles in Armenia”. Total worth of the program was 600,000 Euros, of which 479,999 was allocated by the EU. Penal Reform International UK was the co-financier.

In 2015-2017, the ministry will be implementing the “Assistance for Justice Reforms and the Fight against Brutal, Inhumane Treatment and Impunity”, at a cost of 500,000 Euros allocated by the EU and the Council of Europe.

In 2015-2017, the ministry will be implementing the “Strengthening Health and Defense of Human Rights in Penitentiaries” program at a cost of 900,000 Euros allocated by the EU and the Council of Europe.

Human Rights Defender

Starting in 2009, the Human Rights Defender (HRD) implemented a three year program roughly called the “Effective Defense of Human Rights via the Human Rights Defender’s Office as a National Preventative Mechanism” program at a cost of 97.8 million Euros.

From right – Karen Andreasyan, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender and Raoul de Luzenberger, former Head of the EU Delegation in Armenia

From 2012-2013, the EU spent 135.4 million Euros on programs designed to strengthen the capabilities of the Human Rights Defender’s Office during the elections. HRD branch offices were formed throughout the country.

Regarding the publication of the accounting for these programs, as the HRD Office informed Hetq, government projects were formed to spend these funds in which the nature and objective of the expenditures were noted and sent to the grantor organization. Once decisions were passed, they were published on the Armenian government’s website and in official bulletins. Cost expenditure reports were also published in the decisions adopted by Armenia’s National Assembly regarding yearly national budgetary performance data.

Department of Judiciary Has No Data On Cost Of EU Programs

While the Department of Justice is currently implementing two programs with EU and European Commission assistance, it has no information on the costs.

From 2014-2016 the department is implementing the “Strengthening of the Independence and Professionalism and Accountability of Armenia’s Justice System”, along with its partners, Armenia’s Ministry Of Justice, the Justice Academy, and the School of Lawyers.

2013 launching of the “Strengthening the Application of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Case Law of the European Court of Human Rights in Armenia” program

Designed to contribute to improve the effective implementation of European human rights standards in Armenia, the cost of this program is 1million Euros.

Armenia’s Department of Justice says that publication of the results of events is planned for after the completion of each program.

Ministry of Defense – No Individual Programs With EU

While the ministry reports that it has no individual programs with the EU, employees of the ministry have consistently participated in EU organized events; training courses, etc.

Armenian Government Websites Contain Almost No Information On EU Programs

Since 1992, the European Union has allocated over 500 million Euros to Armenia in assistance. Such yearly assistance is on the rise. 

Such reports are to be found in the EU’s List of Projects page.

Hetq’s investigation has revealed, however, that EU program assistance information is practically inaccessible to the Armenian public. There is little transparency on the matter.

We haven’t even broached the issue as to whether the EU funds have been used effectively and for the purposes specified. Accounting data is almost nonexistent publicly.

This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of “Investigative Journalists” NGO and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union. 

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