OMBUDSMAN CLAIMS PROCEDURAL VIOLATIONS IN LAKE SEVAN LEGISLATIVE REFORMS
- The legislative amendments allowing the use of an extra quantity of water from Lake Sevan were approved in flagrant violation of procedural legal norms, the human rights defender has said in response to recent clarifications by Minister of Territorial Administration Armen Gevorgyan.
Ombudsman Karen Andreasyan claims in a statement that any decision-making process concerning environmental issues (especially Sevan) requires public participation, with the required procedures and timeframes of public hearings being set out in a separate legal act.
"The minimum timeframe of such discussions is 15 days. Obviously, what is termed as 'all interested natural and legal entities' concerns both farmers and environmental organizations, as well as other individuals. That is why, it is necessary to ensure the accessibility, transparency and publicity of public discussions for each interested member of the society," the ombudsman says, adding that the National Academy of Sciences' expert committees and the commission adjunct to the president cannot ensure the implementation of that legal requirement.
The ombudsman claims the a periodical awareness raising through press releases can be considered only one round of the process.
As for the discussions proper, the Ombudsman says that the Government is obliged to post an invitation on a scheduled public hearing on its website, specifying the format of the debate, as well as the hour, venues, timeframes and the topic, and notify the participants of relevant deadlines, which should be no less than ten days following the date of issuing the invitation.
The Ombudsman further refers to the legal requirement of making the draft legal act available online, with an attached justification and other materials as may be deemed appropriate by the body which elaborated the document. Andreasyan says that public hearings can be convened no less than 12 days after making the invitation public via different media.
He claims that the Ministry failed to comply with any of the requirements above.
"Procedural violations can be thought inessential. But each single violation of the law is unacceptable, especially when it can cause damage to the environment, including Sevan.
Procedures can be formal or be made so, but it is only the observance of legal norms and a real consultations with specialists that can help find effective solutions to agricultural problems and potential environmental challenges," Andreasyan says.
- 1844 The National Assembly, consisting of 16 nobles and 14 commoners is created in Constantinople.
- 1862 Michael Nalbandian is arrested and locked up in the Petropavlov prison.
- 1959 President Voroshilov (of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR) awards the Order of Lenin to the Armenian SSR.