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Independent institutions, effective law enforcement and transparent decision-making needed to tackle corruption in Armenia, says Transparency International report

A new report The National Integrity Systems TI Country Study Report - Armenia 2003 has been published today by Transparency International (TI) and TI's national chapter in Armenia, the Center for Regional Development (CRD)/TI Armenia. TI is the leading global non-governmental organisation devoted to combating corruption.

The TI study assessed the effectiveness of the Armenian National Integrity System (NIS), which is comprised of key institutions that contribute to the fight against corruption. None of the institutions evaluated are functioning effectively in Armenia, according to the report. Among the key systemic factors influencing the NIS in Armenia are the absence of political will, the lack of independence and autonomy of institutions, the weak legal framework and poor law enforcement, the lack of administrative and human capacity and the low level of public participation in policy-making.

"It is difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of the government's anti-corruption efforts," said report co-author and CRD/TI Armenia chairwoman Amalia Kostanyan. She continued: "In the past year, certain steps have been taken by the government, including the adoption of an anti-corruption programme, establishment of an Anti-Corruption Council and Monitoring Commission and joining the Group of States against corruption (GRECO). But political will to combat corruption means more than the adoption of a national anti-corruption programme; it also means a demonstrated intolerance of all acts of corruption, irrespective of position and income."

Most Armenians are still sceptical about the government's commitment to fight corruption. Only 22% of respondents of the phone survey conducted by CRD/TI Armenia in February 2004 believed that the adoption of a government anti-corruption strategy demonstrated political will to combat corruption. The view of experts is similar: Armenia received a score of 3.1 against a clean score of 10 in the TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2004, published on 20 October. According to the index, which is based on the views of business people and country analysts, corruption is a serious problem in Armenia.

"Ongoing reforms appear to be of declarative nature only and are perceived as driven by donors", the report states. "To turn this around, local ownership of anti-corruption reforms must be combined with more effective donor assistance."
The report calls for the promotion of law enforcement, along with the improvement of existing legislation. Armenia also needs greater checks and balances to curb the power of the president compared with the legislature, and greater independence of the judiciary, prosecutors, and police, as well as more transparency in the decision-making process.

The report emphasises the need to promote free and fair elections, by strengthening the party system, making electoral commissions more accountable to the public, and giving more rights to proxies and observers. Improving institutional capacity is another priority. "The success of the reform process is largely determined by the broad support of the country's population, which can be promoted by enhancing public awareness and education", according to the report. The role of professional and independent media and, specifically, investigative journalism, is also crucial for success in the fight against corruption.

A revised national anti-corruption strategy and action plan should include the reforms cited above. Best practices of anti-corruption measures all over the world should be reviewed to identify those most applicable to Armenia.

The National Integrity Systems TI Country Study Report - Armenia 2003 was written by Amalia Kostanyan, chairwoman at CRD/TI Armenia, and Varuzhan Hoktanyan, Public Policy Expert at CRD/TI Armenia. The report was prepared under the auspices of a programme developed by the TI Secretariat together with Professor Alan Doig and Stephanie McIvor of the Teesside Business School in the United Kingdom. It is the latest in a series of TI country study reports on national integrity systems.

The National Integrity Systems TI Country Study Report - Armenia 2003 and other country study reports can be downloaded in English at: www.transparency.org

English and Armenian versions are available.


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