The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Challenges: Since its independence, Armenia has sought to balance its relationship with the region and closer integration into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions as a way to overcome the inherited legacy of Soviet institutions and practices. Widespread public protests in April-May 2018 known as the “velvet revolution” brought to power a new government with an explicit anticorruption mandate and a strong desire to improve the criminal justice system, in stark contrast to the previous corrupt, Russia-influenced, oligarchical regime. Armenia is making progress on initiating rule of law and justice sector reforms with INL assistance, including police reform, countering corruption, fighting financial crime, and an increasing emphasis on upholding human rights. Significant institutional problems remain, however. There are still far too few judges, outdated laws provide investigators with limited tools to build strong cases, and organizations remain territorial and unwilling to advocate for resources.
Goals: INL supports the United States’ priorities of tackling transnational organized crime and corruption, countering external malign influence, and building a transparent and accountable justice system that fosters regional stability and protects U.S. security at home and abroad. INL seeks to support Armenia in its effort to tackle institutional corruption in its criminal justice sector through establishing strong foundations for new anticorruption institutions, revitalizing Armenian law enforcement to meet international best practices and employ a new model of service-oriented policing, and creating tools to maintain organizational structures that are transparent and accountable. To further these goals, INL is providing assistance to support the establishment of an anticorruption investigative body, an independent anticorruption court, and a new patrol police organization. INL will also continue to build law enforcement capacity to identify and professionally handle cases involving corruption, human rights, or vulnerable segments of the population concerns, and improving the public, police and courts’ response and accountability.
Accomplishments: INL continues to implement comprehensive justice sector reforms which include training Armenian prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, investigators, and police. INL has provided exchanges and partnerships between Armenia and various state and local agencies to share skills and best practices. INL assistance has supported Armenia’s efforts to draft a National Action Plan on Anti-Corruption, as well as a Judicial Reform Strategy. INL has also supported the development of an attorney ethics code and standardized complaint mechanism, as well as anti-corruption and human rights curriculum development now being delivered to prosecutors, investigators, and judges.