There should not be formal public discussion: Human rights defenders
The government’s new draft on the order of organizing and holding public discussions is put to public discussion on 62 voted for and 38 against.

Heriknaz Tigranyan from Transparency International and Artur Sakunts from Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor office touched upon the draft’s problematic clauses at July 2 Media Center discussion.

The yes or no answers on will not significantly affect the future outcome of the draft as they  only reflect attitude. And even 100% against attitude does not mean that the authors of the draft can get that negative voting till the end”, said Heriknaz Tigranyan.

Tigranyan notes that in public perceptions participation in any process assumes meetings with specialized community or stakeholders, organizing open hearings and discussions.  

According to paragraph 10 the body holding public discussions on its official website and on the joint website of publishing legal act drafts publishes the draft of the normative legal act, its grounds and other materials according to their disposition. And article 20 defines that public discussions can be held through meetings with specialized people or stakeholders via discussions, public surveys and telecommunication means.  

This means that the body who drew or adopted the legal act is not obliged to organize public discussions that in turn provides sufficient ground that publishing the legal act only on websites fulfills the requirement of the law''.

According to the speakers paragraphs 20 and 21 contain logical contradiction. If the public discussion holder according to paragraph 20 has initiated and held a public discussion then it must publish an announcement on its official and joint websites about the place, time and time-frames.

“There is no mention in the government’s draft about how the recommendations affect the draft. Namely if the overall opinion is negative that means the draft must be radically reviewed or be annulled.  The recommendations being rejected the grounds and clarifications must be provided”, says Tigranyan. 

According to Artur Sakunts many issues relating to the new order of the public discussions are conditioned with some clauses enshrined in the law on “Legal Acts”. “Naturally, as a result of discussions some recommendations must be made to amend the law. We can’t make amendments that contradict the law. We face two issues relating to the order and legal acts amendment in the law.”

He thinks public institutions like public councils must also be touched upon with the latters being public discussion institutions. Other public discussion formats are not limited with this. The minister can hold a discussion at his public council and say I did hold a public discussion. There format of the public discussion must be clear-cut.”

The rights defender also expressed concern about the influence of recommendations during public discussions. “The discussion should not be formal. We have already passed the stage of discussion for discussion’s sake. When recommendations are rejected the grounds of rejection must be presented and when they are accepted there must be improvements. That is to say content participation must be provided rather than numbers.”

For more please watch the video.

Lilit Arakelyan, Media Center project editor/coordinator.

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