Open post
Armenian Parliament Building

Statement on Restrictions for Movement of Media Representatives in Parliament

STATEMENT

3 August, 2021, Yerevan

The opening session of the National Assembly of the 8th convocation convened on 2 August was accompanied with strict restrictions to the movement of media representatives in the parliament. Journalists and cameramen were not allowed into the new parliamentary building where sessions of the standing commissions are convened, nor enter the area accommodating the rooms of he representatives of the parliamentary majority, nor even use certain lobbies where they used to take interviews and comments from MPs. 

As early as the last two weeks there were rumours about imposition of such restrictions. However, concerns to this effect were appeased when in answer to the inquiry made by Taguhi Tovmasyan, MP from the ‘I have honour’ faction the secretary general-chief of the NA staff informed her that there was no decision on restricting journalists’ movement. Nevertheless, on the very next working day the media representatives had to face the opposite situation.

We, the undersigned media organisations, note that the above restrictions were imposed in the parliament without any prior discussions and informing the media in advance of the changes in their working conditions. And what is even more important: no normative legal act has been adopted as the legal basis for such actions and only on the same day, 2 August, when these restrictions became effective, the decision of the NA Speaker on this was published.

We condemn such arbitrariness and insist that these steps, rather than regulating the free activities of the media in the parliament, are aimed at creating unnecessary obstacles in obstruction of professional journalistic activity. These steps are directed at shielding parliamentarians from unwanted questions and the criticism of the press and can clearly undermine the transparency and accountability of the NA work.  

We are aware and have time and again voiced our concerns about the unpleasant incidents in the NA when both MPs and journalists have transcended the boundaries of civilised relations and created meaningless conflicts. However, this problem must be resolved on the basis of legality, good reason, mutual understanding and trust in order tp enhance the effectiveness of both MPs’ and journalists’ work.  

In view of the aforesaid, we demand that the leadership of the NA:

  • Annul without a delay the restrictions imposed on media representatives on 2 August;
  • Suspend the effect of paragraph 5 of the Decision of the NA Speaker amending Annex 1 to the decision of the NA Speaker NO-01-L dated 12 February 2019 relating to these restrictions;
  • Initiate broad discussion with the participation of the journalists accredited in the NA, their managers, media non-governmental organisations, international experts with a view to effectively and finally resolving the existing problems.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES
 CENTER
JOURNALISTS’ CLUB ‘ASPAREZ’
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
JOURNALISTS FOR FUTURE
JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
GORIS PRESS CLUB
‘FEMIDA’ NGO

Open post
“EU4LabourRights: Increasing Civic Voice and Action for Labour Rights and Social Protection in Armenia”

“EU4LabourRights: Increasing Civic Voice and Action for Labour Rights and Social Protection in Armenia”

On June 11 2021, an event took place in Yerevan officially launching three new EU-supported projects on enhancing labour rights protection in Armenia.

Three consortia, bringing 14 civil society organisations, employers’ and trade unions as well as media structures from Yerevan and marzes into close collaboration, are implementing the projects.

The new projects are the following:

“Labour Action: Collaborative Effort for Accountable and Inclusive Employment’’ project is implemented by Union of Employers of ICT, Armavir Development Center and Kiraki Development Foundation. The Project aims at enhancing capacity of public administration and civil society organisations to strengthen and expand protection of labor rights and building strategic institutional capacity within the Government towards social protection and labor reforms.

“Decent work now!” project is implemented by Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor, Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center, Advanced Public Research Group, Factor Information Center NGO in cooperation with Education and Solidarity Union.  The Project aims to enhance the individual, collective, and state mechanisms of labour and social rights protection and their application in Armenia through empowerment of employees and labour unions and advocacy for legislative framework reform.

“EU4LabourRights: Increasing Civic Voice and Action for Labour Rights and Social Protection in Armenia” project is implemented by OxYGen Foundation, Socioscope NGO, “Asparez” Journalists’ Club NGO, Armenian Progressive Youth NGO, Media Diversity Institute – Armenia in cooperation with Protection of Rights without Borders NGO, and Eurasia Partnership Foundation. The Project will facilitate a multi-stakeholder policy Platform – CVA which will lead national consultations on the development and implementation of relevant public policies aimed at addressing the discrimination and violation of labour rights, with the involvement of grassroots organisations and activists’ nonformal groups.

The projects initiated activities at the beginning of 2021 and aim to improve labour and social rights protection in Armenia through innovative, IT solutions in labour rights control, public awareness raising on labour rights especially among youth, women, and people with disabilities. Also, they intend to promote a more continuous participatory dialogue among key stakeholders..

Ruben Sargsyan, MLSA Deputy Minister, Hakob Avagyan, Head of the Healthcare and Labour Inspectorate, and Gonzalo Serrano De La Rosa, Head of the Co-operation Section, European Union Delegation to Armenia participated in the event.

“I am impressed when looking to the agenda of the event and seeing so many logos. I think this is a great added value also from the EU side that we can provide, bringing together many partners, different specialisations, different views, opinions, so we are getting together to ensure important, positive tangible change and not only in the labour rights” – Mr. Serrano said.

In his speech, Mr. Sargsyan signified the EU support to protection of labour rights and the improvement of the socio-economic situation in Armenia. He put a special highlight to application of IT system in the Healthcare and Labor Inspectorate for the protection of labour rights. He also emphasized the importance of awareness raising campaigns especially among vulnerable groups of society.

Mr. Avagyan mentioned that the Health Care and Labour Inspectorate have already started cooperation with the project partners, highlighting especially the importance of the upgrading of the inspectorate body, particularly, the digitalization of the labor rights protection mechanism through an online platform.

During the meeting, a MOU between the Healthcare and Labour Inspectorate and the Project Partners thus announcing and laying a ground for continuous cooperation on the labour rights protection in Armenia.

Open post
Աջակցություն պատերազմում տուժած լրագրողներին

Support to the Journalists Injured during the War

Within the framework of the “Rapid Response Fund Initiative program, the Public Journalism Club is announcing about an opportunity to provide financial assistance to media workers injured during the war.

Due to the limited financial resources, the media workers who suffered during the second Nagorno Karabakh  war and obtained health problems will be selected.

If you have covered the 44-day war and your health has been damaged, please fill out this form. Deadline for applications is June 30, 2021.

The main goals of the “Rapid Response Fund Initiative” program supported by EED (European Endowment for Democracy) are to provide fast and flexible support to journalists and media workers, to provide them with medical and psychological assistance, to develop professional skills in international humanitarian law, first aid, digital and personal data security, and to raise awareness of psychological protection among journalists and the public.

The program is implemented by the Public Journalism Club NGO. Within the framework of the project, a coordinating consortium was formed, which includes the Media Initiative Centerthe Yerevan Press Clubthe Freedom of Information Centerthe Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, and the Comprehensive Information Institute. The consortium will develop the long-term vision, mission, and strategy of the initiative.

Open post
une 4 statement Hayk Sargsyan Anush Dashtents

Statement

On 3 June, Hayk Sargsyan, an MP from the My Step faction was involved in yet another incident of indecent conduct in respect of a journalist. Anush Dashtents, correspondent with the daily newspaper Hrapatak, informed the media that having noticed this particular representative of the ruling political force at the headquarters of the Civil Contract party, she approached him in an attempt to ask a question. In response, the MP seized her phone and departed in his car with the words that he would not return the phone ‘until she brings herself to order.’ Anush Dashtents informed the witnesses of the incident that she was going to apply to the police.  However, their response was that they had not seen anything and that she would not be able to prove her claims. Later, when the journalist applied to someone close to the MP, her phone was returned. However, it password had been broken and the footage had been deleted. Hayk Sargsyan in his turn informed the media that he had asked Ms Dashtents not to film him and his friends, and this was the reason why he resorted to such behavior. Incidentally, following a call from her, the police invited the journalist to the police station to make a report of the incident.

We, the undersigned journalistic organisations, hereby condemn the incident. We note that months ago the same Hayk Sargsyan from the ruling party manifested yet another incident of intolerance and lack of civility in respect of a journalist, which was the subject of yet another  statement of ours. This time his acts of obstructing the journalist’s work and seizure of her property prima facie contain elements of a crime. In addition to this, breaking the password of Anush Dashtents’ phone and using it for other purposes is nothing but an unlawful interference with the privacy of the journalist.

We hereby reiterate our findings made in the previous statements to the effect that such impermissible incidents are especially dangerous to societal stability at this time of very tense electoral campaign given that any frivolous behavior on the part of politicians may entail further inflammation of passions.

In view of the aforesaid we demand from:

  • The NA leadership, My Step faction and Civil Contract party to examine Hayk Sargsyan’s behavior, to express a clear position on the incident, to take steps to prevent the occurrence of such incidents in the future and to inform the public of the steps taken;
  • The RA Police to carry out an impartial investigation into the incident and come up with an unbiased assessment of Hayk Sargsyan’s actions.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER
JOURNALISTS’ CLUB ‘ASPAREZ’
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
JOURNALISTS FOR FUTURE
JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
GORIS PRESS CLUB
FEMIDA

Open post
Armenia -- The logo of the Human Rights Defender, Yerevan, 22Mar2021

Statement on cyberbullying against journalist Ani Gevorgyan and her child

On 14 April, 2021, Arman Tatoyan, the RA Human Rights Defender announced that Ani Gevorgyan, journalist from the website Tert.am, had applied to him informing that she had received threats in different social media in connection with performance by her of her professional journalistic activities. In particular, several users had disseminated a photo of her and her child along with insulting and degrading texts.

Taking note of HRD Arman Tatoyan’s intention to send a letter to the RA Police and that Ani Gevorgyan has already reported the case to the law enforcement authorities, we hereby record an increase in the cases of attacks and pressure on journalists both in the social media and during mass political protests. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to develop a culture of civilized political debate within our society and confronting any dissent with hatred, swear words and threats still remains widespread. Furthermore, no regard whatsoever is paid to the danger of illegally publicizing the photos and other personal data of minors. Under these circumstances special attention by the law enforcement authorities to the problem and taking adequate countermeasures becomes even more demanded.

We, the undersigned journalistic organizations, condemn any form of pressure on media representatives, especially if this is connected with a criminally punishable act, such as a threat to a journalist or his/her close relative. Underlining the importance of the precedent of a journalist applying to a state institution, we demand that:

  • The RA Police take steps to ensure Ani Gevorgyan’s safety, to identify and hold liable the users that have insulted and threatened her in social networks.
  • The political forces and their proponents demonstrate more restraint in respect of journalists and the media performing their professional duty regardless of their focus, disseminated ideas and views.

We call on journalists to voice any incident of violation of their rights, which will contribute to giving publicity to the issue and effectively protecting the rights of media workers.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
CENTER FOR MEDIA INITIATIVES
JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
JOURNALISTS FOR FUTURE
JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
GORIS PRESS CLUB
FEMIDA NGO

Open post
AI Data Processing

MDI Armenia publishes eBook on Digital Human Rights

The rapid development of digital technologies and communications resulted in many new legal and public policy areas such as, for example, personal data protection, cyber policing, cybersecurity and many others. This eBook covers one of those areas, often referred to as digital rights. It might be interesting and useful for civil society activities, politicians, public authorities, and those involved in policy decision-making or public discussion of such policies.

The eBook is written primarily for the Armenian audience, and its first part contains the analysis of Armenian policies, legal and regulatory frameworks. It covers the concept of digital rights in general, specific areas of their implication and relevant international documents, the analysis of the Armenian legislation in the context of the implementation of digital rights and proposes some steps for strengthening their protection as well as features a series of analytical articles on the situation with Digital Human Rights in Armenia over the past year.

The book is available in Armenian as a PDF for free download.

Open post
Armenian Parliament Building

Statement on tripling fines for insult and defamation

On 24 March, 2021, the National Assembly adopted in the second reading and completely the legislative draft amending the RA Civil Code authored by Mr Alen Simonyan, Deputy Speaker of the NA, raising the damages awards for insult and defamation to 3 mln and 6 mln AMD, respectively.

This amendment is extremely dangerous, especially if we take into account the propensity of the representatives of the state authorities, politicians and other public figures to perceive even objective criticism as insult and defamation and apply to the court. If we add to this the total lack of independence of the judiciary, judgments following such complaints may become fatal for the further activities of the media.

This essentially means that contrary to the calls and pleadings of the media organisations and the expert community, the legislature approved of a repressive initiative related to the field of the media, which is not backed by any profound professional research and analysis, and is solely conditioned by narrow political interests.

The initial version of the draft, which was adopted in the first reading, foresaw multiplying the upper thresholds of damages awards for insult and defamation by five. Later, in the course of the deliberations in the NA it was decided to multiply them by three. This, however, cannot be deemed as a compromise in the solution of the problem as these amounts are not comparable with the financial-economic situation of the country and the finances of the media.

Without any intention whatsoever to defend those that commit defamation and insult, we, the undersigned media organisations, reaffirm that these amendments will cause a significant damage to freedom of expression and restrict the medias’ ability to criticise objectively. Apart from this, it may become a trigger for the courts to adopt more severe judgments against the media.

It is obvious that this legislative intitiative undermines the balance between the right to freedom of expression foreseen by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the right to privacy foreseen by Article 8 of the same Convention. This amendment also neglects an important provision from the Decision No 997 of the Constitutional Court dated 15 November 2011, according to which while determining a damages award for insult and defamation found in publications, note should be taken of the medias’ finances to avoid a situation whereby liability leads to bankruptsy.

In view of the aforesaid, we call on the:

  • RA President not to sign the Law on Amendments to the RA Civil Code and refer it to the RA Constitutional Court to verify whether it conforms to the RA Constitution and the precedent set by the Decision No 997 dated 15 November 2011 of the same Court.
  • International organisations to publicly deplore the legislative amendments raising the damages awards for defamation and insult and to call on the authorities to review this initiative endangering freedom of speech in Armenia.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
CENTER FOR MEDIA INITIATIVES
JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
JOURNALISTS FOR FUTURE
JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
GORIS PRESS CLUB
FEMIDA NGO

Open post

Statement on drastic increase of damages awards in defamation and insult cases

On 11 February, 2021, the parliament adopted a draft law authored by Alen Simonyan, Vice Speaker of the parliament, in the first reading, according to which the maximum amount of damages awards in defamation and insult cases must be multiplied by five to reach 10 mln and 5 mln AMD, respectively. We hereby note that yet another time the National Assembly is adopting legislation concerning the mass media, which is not founded on profound research and advice of competent experts.

This said, on 16 September when the above draft was first circulated we made a statement, noting that drastic increase of the damages awards may create serious threats for the whole media field, detrimenting not only indecent platforms but also journalists respecting the law and professional ethics, especially if we take into consideration that very often it is the good faith criticism of the media that is perceived as defamation or insult and result in judicial disputes.

We hereby reassert that the proposed amendment undermines the balance between the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention and the right to reputation as an element of the right to privacy guaranteed by Article 8 of the same Convention. Apart from this, it undermines the important principle reflected in the Decision No 997 of the Constitutional Court dated 15 November 2011, according to which when awarding damages in defamation and insult cases it is necessary to consider the financial situation of media outlets in order for such liability not to destroy them.

This draft that has passed its first reading is even more worrying in the light of the facts that solution to the problems in the field of the media is being sought by means of repressive legislative amendments and their enforcement. A vivid example of the aforesaid is the package of amendments to the Law on Mass Communication and the Code of Administrative Violations, which foresee references to anonymous sources in publications and a fine in the amount of 500 000 AMD for breaching this ban and in the amount of 1 mln AMD in case of repetitive violations.

In the circumstances of such regressive initiatives any step of the authorities in the field of the media will be perceived as a pressure on freedom of speech conditioned by narrow personal interests and priorities, as is the case of restrictions imposed by the NSS in respect of the media work in some areas in Syunik. The statements and clarifications made in this respect, as well as the actions taken create a lot of uncertainty, are controversial and inspire search for hidden agendas behind them.

Taking into consideration the unacceptable processes, which are taking place, as well as the likely negative implications of the legislative amendments concerning defamation and insult, we, the undersigned organizations, demand that:

  •  The National Assembly postpones the second reading and adoption of the above draft, and initiates public discussions on the problem of defamation and insult imparted by the media and the possible countermeasures to this;
  • The RA President refuses to sign the law in case it is adopted by the NA, expressing his clear position on this regressive initiative;
  • The state institutions ensure the fulfilment of the rights to freedom of information and access to information when building their relations with the mass media;
  • The international organizations discuss the problems of adoption of legislation concerning the media by the RA parliament in blatant neglect of the related international norms, as well as take measures to rectify the situation.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER
JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE” NGO
“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO
GORIS PRESS CLUB

Open post
Armenian Media Organizations

Statement on broadcasting hate speech and inciting violence

On the evening of November 12, 2020, the words of an Artsakh war veteran were played back on the large screen placed in Yerevan’s Republic square, which contained swearing and hate speech, threats of violence and murder. A part of the video was also broadcast on Public Television of Armenia.

Following the pogroms organized against the authorities, now it looks as though the authorities themselves do not wish to discriminate in the means of political struggle.

The escalating internal political confrontations in these crucial times for Armenia are pulling the society further apart, which can lead to irreversible consequences. As to the media and especially so in the case of the public broadcaster, their prime mission should be to consolidate the society and act responsibly in the face of the hard challenges facing the country.

We, the undersigned media organizations, express our support for the assessments and demands put forth by Arman Tatoyan, Human Rights Defender of Armenia, in a Facebook post. We strictly condemn dissemination of speech containing hate, swearing and threats, as well as the broadcasting of similar materials by the Public Television.

We also demand:

• The authorities to express a public position on the fact of publicizing hate, animosity and calls for violence, and hold responsible those officials, who have organized and carried out this impermissible action;

• The Council of the Public Television and Radio Company to implement due oversight over the broadcast content and exclude animosity and inciting violence in these difficult times for the country;

• The private media to act with utmost sense of responsibility, cover issues in a comprehensive and balanced manner, in accordance with the professional journalistic ethics.

We call on our compatriots not to give way to provocations, be it from the opposition or the authorities, and refrain from actions, which could lead to civil unrest.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

YEREVAN PRESS CLUB

MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER

JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER

MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA

PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB

“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE” NGO

“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO

GORIS PRESS CLUB

Open post
RFERL Logo Large Landscape

Statement on the attack against the Armenian service of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Today, on November 10, at about 4:00 AM, dozens of men tried to burst into the Yerevan Bureau of “Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty” (Azatutyun Radio). The attackers knocked on the doors with their feet and fists, swore at the employees of the Bureau. According to the statement published by the radio station, the attackers said that they have come to take away the servers to stop Azatutyun from broadcasting, swore at the employees, and pushed them around. The attackers left after Radio Liberty’s employees called the police.

We, the undersigned media organizations, express our indignation over this unbridled attack; we consider any violence, pressure, persecution of journalists, and the media inadmissible at such a critical moment for Armenia.

We demand from the law enforcement bodies to take immediate measures to find the initiators and perpetrators of the attack on the radio station and bring them to justice.

We call on all political forces, non-government and other bodies, initiatives, and citizens to show restraint and exclude any harassment against the media and their employees, regardless of their political orientation.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER
JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE” NGO
“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO
GORIS PRESS CLUB

Posts navigation

1 2 3 4
Scroll to top