Teghut (environmental inspections)

On May 18, 2015, the Administrative Court of Armenia took up a case brought before the court jointly by Ecological Right NGO and residents of Lori Province against Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection demanding that the latter be obliged by the court to carry out inspections in the Teghut mine. This demand was based on irrefutable facts in the possession of civil rights groups, which showed that the mining company had substantially deviated from the conditions of the project approved through the issuing of the mining permit. Whereas in order to exploit the mine with new conditions, the company needed to apply for a new permit while going through all the necessary steps and procedures, including all phases of public discussions. Those inspections were needed to identify the relevant violations and their consequences through a legally defined procedure.

The legal basis of the claim brought to the court was the responsibility of the Ministry of Protection, defined by the Republic of Armenia Law on Environmental Oversight, to conduct environmental inspections at specific mines based on the well-grounded request of citizens. For years, the ministry refused to carry out such inspections citing different reasons. These were branded as “violations of ecological human rights” in the annual reports of Armenia’s Human Rights Defender.

In the frameworks of the legal case VD/1726/05/15, on August 25, 2015, the case was dismissed at the request of the representative of the Ministry of Nature Protection. The basis of the dismissal by the court was Decree No000115 of the Minister of Nature Protection, which was ordering corresponding state inspectors to carry out inspections in Teghut CJSC between 24.06.2015 and 04.08.2015. The court therewith decided that the dispute was over and dismissed the case. The environmental inspections imposed through a judicial process have not yet ended as three days before the deadline, on March 31, 2015, the government of Armenia adopted a decision on ceasing inspections in a number of industrial objects, including Teghut CJSC. Although the government decision was adopted only for a six-month period, following decision have kept extending the period of waiving the inspections ((https://www.e-gov.am/gov-decrees/item/26045/,

https://www.e-gov.am/gov-decrees/item/26811/,

https://www.e-gov.am/gov-decrees/item/27325/,

https://www.e-gov.am/gov-decrees/item/28155/,

https://www.e-gov.am/gov-decrees/item/28968/).

The Ministry of Nature Protection has refused to provide the results of inspections that did take place claiming that they can be provided only upon full completion of those inspections.