On April 9, 2015, the Administrative Court of Armenia took into legal proceedings a case brought before the court by Ecological Right and Ecodar NGO’s jointly with 12 residents of Gndevaz against Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection and the Ministry of Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources demanding the annulment of the mining permit of Amulsar mine in Vayots Dzor Province:
The main legal act being disputed in the frameworks of court case VD/104905/15 was the conclusion of the Environmental Impact Assessment issued by the Ministry of Nature Protection. During the trial, the court decided that the act in question was not an administrative act and therefore could not be disputed as a legal document. Thus, the EIA expert conclusion approved by the Minister of Nature Protection could not be admitted as evidence. At the request of the plaintiff, a series of statements from a number of specialists disputing the expert conclusion of the EIA were attached to the case. Evidently, documents presented by relevant state authorities and independent experts had the same legal value and worth as evidence before the court.
During the time of the court proceedings, the mining company made significant changed to the mining project and acquired a new permit based on those changes, which further complicated and prolonged the legal proceedings. After more than two years of judicial proceedings, on August 30 of 2017, the Administrative Court of Armenia decided that Ecological Right and Ecodar were no longer deemed as appropriated plaintiffs and had no legal standing to dispute the legality of the mining permit awarded to the company. In its decision, the court cited the limitations of the new Law on NGO’s with regards to the right to access to justice for public associations. The case is still in motion for Gndevaz residents, whereas the violation of the right to access to justice for environmental organizations is under review at the Compliance Committee of the Aarhus Convention.