We, the undersigned journalistic organizations, express our deep concern over the contradictions in the external and internal agendas of reforms envisaged in various sectors in Armenia.
In particular, several journalistic organizations were notified of the opportunity to submit proposals regarding the draft decision “On establishing the procedure for the relationship of the Supreme Judicial Council, the SJC, courts and judges with media” until July 14, 2023. This document contains a range of promising provisions, for example, that “media representatives can freely attend the open sessions and working consultations of the Supreme Judicial Council, film and photograph, and even immediately livestream the events.”
In fact, in the period when the representatives of the journalistic community were supposed to develop proposals on the draft decision, a scandalous incident occurred on July 3: the SJC refused journalists’ access to its previously announced open session, where a matter of public interest was being discussed. In the days that followed, many of our colleagues and ourselves criticized that incident through different platforms and were waiting for clarifications of the Supreme Judicial Council about what happened, as well as forward-looking conclusions. Unfortunately, there was no response, which could not but make reveal the secret of contradiction lying between the two processes.
We have grounds to infer that the broad-minded approach reflected in the draft decision by the SCJ is conditioned by the simple fact that it is being developed within the frames of a joint project with the Swedish National Courts Administration and due to the financial support of the Swedish Government, for which we are only grateful. Nonetheless, the July 3 session of the Supreme Judicial Council took place in our domestic reality, away from the scrutiny of the international community.
Through this statement, we firmly reiterate that such discrepancies between the agendas of international cooperation and the practical execution of “reforms” within the country are unacceptable to us.
Our principled approach is to contribute to endeavors aimed at enhancing the role of media in the institutional progress across various sectors in Armenia. However, we consider it unacceptable to engage in merely formal, windowdressing initiatives.
We also call on the international partners of the RA state structures to demonstrate consistency and pay greater attention to the efficiency of the ongoing processes, ensuring that the reforms announced on paper are duly reflected in real life.
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
The Statement is open for signatures