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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

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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

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Collage of vehicles carrying journalists, which came under fire in Artsakh

Statement regarding the Azerbaijani targeting of journalists

In the past few days, military operations have escalated in Nagorno-Karabakh. In this connection, covering the conflict has become extremely complicated for Armenian and foreign journalists. Azerbaijan keeps launching extensive missile attacks against peaceful settlements, including the capital Stepanakert, flagrantly violating the humanitarian norms stipulated by the Geneva Convention. Media representatives that have been performing their professional duties are being targeted just like the urban and rural population.

On October 1, 2020, as a result of those hatred-based actions, two foreign and two Armenian journalists were wounded, in response to which we have already expressed our outrage. On the following day, a group of journalists on a bus miraculously escaped the Azerbaijani UAV chase. More cases of threat to journalists’ life and health have been reported in Stepanakert on October 4.

On October 2, Hikmat Hajiyev, an aide to the Azerbaijani president, weirdly justified the cases of targeting the media representatives. According to him, foreign journalists have not obtained permission from the Azerbaijani government, therefore their stay in Nagorno-Karabakh is illegal and Baku should bear no responsibility for their safety.

This is nothing else but an indirect threat to journalists, guided by military actions against them. Basically Azerbaijan, with few exceptions, does not accredit the foreign media representatives that would like to cover the conflict, making every attempt to impede their work on the Armenian side by life-and-health-threatening actions. This also infringes the right of the public to obtain information under martial law.

Taking this situation into account, we, the undersigned organizations, call upon international structures and all our foreign partners to pay attention to the assaults of Azerbaijan against journalists, as well as raise their voice in protest and perform practical steps in order to counteract their 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 THE FUTURE” NGO
“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO
GORIS PRESS CLUB

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Vehicle carrying journalists came under fire in Martuni town, Artsakh

Statement of media organizations on targeting journalists in Artsakh’s Martuni town by Azerbaijan

Today, on October 1st, 2020 Armenian and foreign journalists located in the town of Martuni, in Artsakh, suffered as a result of artillery fire from Azerbaijan. More specifically, representatives of “Le Monde” newspaper, correspondent Allan Kaval and photojournalist Rafael Charles Yaghobzadeh, cameraman of “Armenia” television company Aram Grigorian and correspondent of online news portal “24news.am” Sevak Vardumian were injured. Deputy editor-in-chief of the Russian “Dozhd” TV channel Dmitry Yelovsky also came under Azerbaijani fire, but he was able to take cover in a bomb shelter along with other journalists.

According to official information, Azerbaijani troops opened fire on the vehicle carrying representatives of Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.

It is worth noting, that the journalists suffered in a region, which is quite far from the line of contact between the conflicting sides. This is yet another proof that the attacks of the Azerbaijani military are also directed against the civilian population. This fact, as well as firing on journalists is a gross violation of the Geneva Convention.

Given the above-mentioned circumstances, we, the undersigned media organizations, are calling on:
· The International Community to resolutely condemn the war unleashed by Azerbaijan and demand from the official Baku to stop attacks on civilians and media representatives performing their professional duty;
· Governments of Armenia and Artsakh to take additional steps to ensure the safety of journalists.

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

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Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Statement on the case of “Lori TV” editor-in-chief

With indignation and disappointment do we learn that the Court of General Jurisdiction of Lori Marz (Judge Susanna Gzogyan) decided not to prosecute any of the people accused of using physical violence against the editor-in-chief of “Lori TV” Narine Avetisyan.
We should remind that that on September 28, 2017, Narine Avetisyan was informed that asphalt was being laid on the bridge adjacent to the St. Astvatsatsin Church of Vanadzor city in the heavy rain, and she left for the site to cover the ongoing works. When she was shooting some footage, the head of Shinplus construction company Tigran Nazaryan and his staff attacked Narine Avetisyan, scrolled her arms, threw her onto the ground, snatched her phone, and deleted the photos.
The criminal case initiated on the case with an indictment was filed with the court on February 23, 2018, and after a trial that lasted for 2 and half years Tigran Nazaryan was found not guilty and acquitted on the grounds that his involvement in the crime had not been proven. Whereas the employee of the organization Vrezh Khachatryan was released from criminal responsibility due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Even though the Lori Marz Prosecutor’s Office had clearly described what had happened in the indictments, the court ignored it and failed to impose a sentence on the defendants. It is completely incomprehensible and unacceptable why the rather simple case was delayed for so long․ Maybe for the purpose of applying the statute of limitations?
This judgment, in fact, not only acquits the person who attacked a journalist, but also gives a “green light” for new instances of violence against media representatives and creates an environment of impunity.
Taking into consideration the apparent bias and injustice of the judgment, we, the undersigned organizations, demand:
– From the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee of Council of Courts of the Republic of Armenia and the Minister of Justice to study the given case and initiate disciplinary proceedings in case of intentional or negligent violation of the norm of substantive or procedural law by Judge Susanna Gzogyan,
– From the Criminal Court of Appeal, to overturn the decision of the first instance, ensure a comprehensive and impartial investigation of the case, and bring to justice those who used violence against the journalist.

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

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The sessions hall of the Armenian National Assembly Parliament

Media watchdogs criticize plans to sharply increase monetary compensation for insult and defamation

The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of the RA Alen Simonyan tabled a legislative initiative which proposes to increase the maximum amount of monetary compensation for insult and defamation five times to 5 million and 10 million AMD, respectively, which has caused concern and indignation among the Armenian and international journalistic community. This approach, put forward for purely political reasons, can in no way contribute to the realization of the stated goals, namely the exclusion of irresponsible journalism, and the protection of citizens’ rights to information.

This initiative is even more dangerous against the background of the fact that the number of lawsuits filed by government officials against the media on the grounds of insult and / or slander is increasing every month, by the way, claiming the maximal amount of compensation, namely 1 million AMD for insult and 2 million AMD for slander. It is true that these claims are seldom satisfied met, but in the current situation, the fivefold increase in the amount of the compensation will be a clear message for the judiciary to push for tougher decisions against the media.

This would upset the balance between the right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention and the dignity of a person as a component of one’s private life, protected by Article 8 of the same Convention. In addition, the most important provision of the RA Constitutional Court Decision No. 997 of November 15, 2011, will be ignored, according to which the financial situation of the media must be taken into account when assigning compensation for insult and slander in the publications, so that this responsibility does not lead to their collapse.

The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus has already had a severe impact on the activities of the media. It is obvious that the sharp increase in the amount of compensation for insult and defamation under Article 1087.1 of the RA Civil Code will become a serious threat to the sector as a whole, leading to punishment not only to some indecent platforms, but also hurting journalists who comply with the law and professional ethics. There are many cases when justified criticism is perceived as insult or slander, and attempts are made to “deal with” the media through the court.

The tabled draft in question causes concerns because in recent months there have been frequent legislative initiatives related to the media, which are not based on in-depth studies of the situation or expert advice.

Taking the above mentioned into account, we as journalistic organizations, demand from the National Assembly:

– to reject the inclusion of the above-mentioned bill in the agenda of the Parliament and withdraw the document from circulation,
– to initiate open discussions on the insult and slander disseminated by media outlets and the options of responding to them, with the participation of representatives from political forces, state bodies, media, non-governmental organizations and international organizations,
– to promote legislatively the development of quality journalism and extrajudicial settlement of information disputes.

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

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Statement on Ex-Police Chief’s Attack on RFE/RL Reporters

On August 8 the former Chief of Police of Armenia Vladimir Gasparyan demonstrated a lawless conduct towards the journalists of Radio Liberty, obstructing their professional activity. The latter were preparing a report at the shoreline of Lake Sevan about buildings and structures illegally constructed along the shore. Noticing that the journalists were taking footage of his mansion, too, the former Chief of Police, according to Radio Liberty, drove his car in their direction, threatening to run them over and exterminate physically – “shoot them dead,” “beat them to death” – and then used obscene curses, demanding not to publish the footage.

During his years in office, Vladimir Gasparyan was notorious for his insolent, and in some cases even cruel attitude towards media representatives. We should recall that during the events of Electric Yerevan in 2015 and those of Sari Tagh in  2016 over 40 journalists and cameramen were subject to physical violence and unlawful persecution. Or we can recall his gross insult to the correspondent of 1.am news website Siranuysh Papyan which caused unconcealed indignation among the journalistic community.

All this remained unpunished, and obviously, that is the very reason why today the former Chief of Police continues to act indecently towards journalists.

Taking the above-stated into consideration, we as journalistic organizations demand from law enforcement bodies to investigate the incident and bring Vladimir Galstyan to responsibility in the manner established by the law.

 

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

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TV Tower of Yerevan

Media Watchdogs Raise Concerns Regarding The Draft Law “On Audiovisual Media”

The draft law “On Audiovisual Media” adopted by the National Assembly in the first reading gives cause for deep concern. Not only is it not aimed at implementing reforms in the broadcasting sector, but it is also seriously flawed in terms of the presented principles and approaches, as well as the formulations thereof. The bill envisages an inefficiently competitive licensing procedure for terrestrial broadcasting via public multiplex. It fails to either provide any realistic mechanisms for forming private multiplexes, or solve the problems of about 10 local TV stations operating in the regions that were left out of the digitalization process. No opportunity for reforms over the public broadcaster is created and so on.

Although some of the journalistic organizations who signed this statement had submitted a few dozen proposals to the authors of the document, with most of them accepted, it is obvious that the draft does not meet any modern requirements, does not solve the key issues in the field. The main reason is that the bill is built on problematic conceptual bases, hence, it needs to be revised.

The reason for concern is that the authors of the document did not want to follow our urges to send the draft to the Council of Europe and/or the OSCE for international expert evaluation,  a process which we have expressed our readiness to support. We understand that the urgency in relation to the adoption of the bill is conditioned by the fact that according to the current law “On Television and Radio”, the terms of TV licenses shall expire this year, and regular competitions must be organized. However, due to the need to adopt a quality new law, they may be delayed as well.

In view of the above stated, we call to:

– take the bill on audiovisual media out of circulation and send it for international expert examination,

– make appropriate amendments to the present Law on Television and Radio in order to postpone the regular licensing tenders,

–  initiate discussions in order to draft a concept paper for the development of the field and a new law for the regulation of the sector and create a working group with the participation of NA deputies, journalists’ organizations, representatives of TV and radio companies, and independent experts.

 

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

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Armenia -- Police fine Armnews TV, because the TV anchor wasn't wearing a mask, Yerevan, 03Jul2020

Statement on Police Actions at The Newsrooms of ArmNews and Channel 5 TV

Yesterday, on July 3, policemen visited ArmNews and Channel 5 TV stations, with the aim of initiating administrative proceedings for not wearing a mask on TV.

Even taking into account the requirements under the state of emergency related to the coronavirus epidemic, we consider the action applied by the law enforcement to be an abuse of power. In the conditions of political and psychological tension in the society, the authorities should be more careful and avoid taking unnecessarily strict steps. We are convinced that the issue of wearing a mask or not wearing it on air could be solved differently, through discussions, clarifications, and mutual agreements.

We, the undersigned organizations, demand from the Government and the Commandant’s Office as follows:

  • not to use law enforcement agencies in actions beyond their typical scope of functions and exclude their interference in the activities of the media;
  • to revise and clarify the limitations on working conditions related to the media because of the epidemic, taking into account the peculiarities of the media, especially TV․

We urge the media to refrain from any possible violations of the decisions passed by the Commandant’s Office, realizing their own share of responsibility for the health of both fellow citizens and their employees.

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

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Armenia -- Journalists pushed around while covering tycoon Gagik Tsarukian's departure from NSS, Yerevan, 16Jun2020

“The Security Forces Not Only Failed To Protect The Journalists, But Also Hindered Their Work”

Yesterday, on June 16, 2020 when “Prosperous Armenia” party leader Gagik Tsarukyan following his interrogation at the RA National Security Service went out to his supporters gathered in the area, as a result of scuffle as well as police actions, at least 5 journalists covering the process suffered. In particular, “News.am” correspondent Liana Sargsyan, “Tert.am” reporter Ani Gevorgyan, “Yerkir.am” correspondent Tatevik Kostandyan, “Kentron” TV journalist Artur Hakobyan and “MegaNews.am” editor Margarita Davtyan were injured.

According to the injured journalists, the media representatives found themselves surrounded by the police in the confusion, after which they were hit. Regardless of whether these actions were targeted or were conditioned by negligence or insufficient professional training, we note that the security forces not only failed to protect the journalists, but also hindered their work.

We, the undersigned journalistic organizations, condemn any violence against media representatives who perform their professional duties, and demand from the RA Police to carry out an objective internal investigation to study the incident and bring those responsible to justice.

At the same time, given that these events take place in the state of emergency conditioned by coronavirus, we urge media executives to keep away their employees from appearing in the center of gatherings of people while covering rallies, and in case it is impossible, to give clear instructions on complying with security measures.

 

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

YEREVAN PRESS CLUB

MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER

“ASPAREZ” JOURNALISTS’ CLUB

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER

MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA

PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB

“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE”

“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS”

GORIS PRESS CLUB

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