Will Corruption Be Lessened in Armenia? We Hope So

The Armenian National Assembly unanimously recently passed a law to establish an anti-corruption committee to investigate all kinds of illegal activities and, hopefully, punish the guilty.

Former Minister of Justice, Arpine Hovhannisyan, now vice speaker of the Parliament, introduced the bill.

Corruption is widespread in the world in various countries. The most corrupt countries are in Africa, Middle East, North Korea, South America, Nigeria, Libya, Sudan, and others.

The cleanest countries are in Northern Europe — Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, also Canada and New Zealand.

Corruption is in the judicial system, tax administration, police, government offices, education, and myriad other institutions. These conditions hurt (almost ruining) countries. Politicians and Oligarchs cooperate secretly, in conjunction with the justice system, so individuals amass wealth. Bribery is another tool. Bribe the police, bribe the politicians, bribe the judges, and so on. Corruption hurts political stability, hinders economic, social growth, and advancement, plus damages the educational system, creates poverty, and emigration and so on.

The United Nations, Amnesty International, Transparency International and other organizations try to halt corruption, but many times get small results, but at least, they are results and we hope it will be better.

Considering the former Soviet countries, Armenia has a fairly good record comparing with the countries of the Caucasus, Russia is the 35th corrupt country, according to records, and Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and others are worse than Armenia. Armenia is the 10th, just ahead of Georgia.

Cronyism, political and business relations, bribery and not reporting ownership of properties is widespread in Armenia’s upper layer. There are some rules, but they are never enforced, because the government failed to fund the program. Of course there are many clean individuals who mind their own business.

On a personal level, I had the opportunity to attend a court hearing about an American-Armenian friend’s business ten years ago. It may sound unbelievable, but I have 12 witnesses — when the judge opened the hearing, she said “I am not the judge who gives the verdict, I am the judge who reads the verdict.” We were amazed.

Armenia’s Justice Minister, Davit Harutyunyan recently announced that he will be “implementing slow but steady measures to do away with the roots of corruption and bribery within the court system.” He also pointed out that the government’s serious measures of restricting illegal personal enrichment and doing away with various categories of cash flow are already in the Parliament.

The U.S Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills met with the Prime Minister and discussed ways to combat corruption. Mills assured the PM that the United States authorities are ready to support the Government’s anti-corruption effort.

One major issue is that the corrupt people are never punished or jailed.

For the sake of the future of Armenia, let’s work hard on diminishing the corruption in Armenia and make Armenia a better country. Let’s punish the criminals and enforce the laws for everyone.

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