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Statement on Ensuring Media Coverage under The State of Emergency

We, the undersigned organizations, have noted with satisfaction that on March 25 the RA Government reviewed its March 16 decision and ended the disproportionate limitations of covering issues related to the coronavirus.

Nevertheless, we note that the revised provisions do not clearly define the body, which is authorized to provide official information and comment on behalf of the State of Emergency Coordinating Body. This raises problems when trying to effectively utilize relevant arrangements for the state of emergency.

Given the need under the current situation for the public to be informed and receive accurate, reliable, and comprehensive information, we call on the RA government to immediately define a clear procedure for providing the requested information and appoint a responsible authority.

As in our previous statement, we reconfirm our readiness to support any undertaking aimed at ensuring that the public is properly informed.

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
JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
GORIS PRESS CLUB

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Armenian Media Microphones

Statement on Provisions Limiting Freedom of Speech in Government’s Decision to Institute a State of Emergency

March 20, 2020, Yerevan

We, the undersigned, have in various formats expressed our negative opinion about the provisions of the Government’s decision to institute a State of Emergency in the Republic of Armenia, which regulate the dissemination of information.

After those provisions went into force, we have registered that their implementation is ineffective, non-proportional, unreasonable and contradicts public interest under the conditions of the pandemic.

We are calling on the RA Government and State of Emergency Coordinating Body:

  • To immediately call back provisions 23, 24, 25 and 26 of the Government decision # 298-N, about instituting a state of emergency in the Republic of Armenia as of March 16;
  • Develop a new provision regulating the dissemination of information, which will clarify possible limitations for this complicated situation, will aid in the adherence to norms of professionalism and effective interactions between the government bodies and media for the public good.

We express readiness to help in developing such a document.

Yerevan Press Club

Media Initiatives Center

Freedom of Information Center

Public Journalism Club

Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression

Journalists’ Club “Asparez”

Media Diversity Institute – Armenia

Journalists for the Future

Journalists for Human Rights

Goris Press Club

Supremacy of Law

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Statement on the Draft Amendments to the Criminal Code

The new draft of the amendments to the Criminal Code posted on the official website e-draft.am by the Ministry of Justice raised serious concerns among the journalistic circles. In particular, Article 443 relating to filing a false police report prescribes liability, including imprisonment for publishing false information on a criminal case or commission of a crime by someone in the media.

We, the undersigned organisations, note the clarifications provided by the Ministry to the effect that the purpose of the said amendments was not targeting the media or journalists. Nevertheless, we state that transposing the crime of filing a false police report to the field of the media is an innovation unused in the past (it does not exist in the current Criminal Code) and not necessary at present, which can threaten seriously freedom of expression and impede media activity. Moreover, this will have a “chilling effect” on the media sources to impart confidential information on cases of public importance. Finally, even if a media outlet publishes false information on a criminal case or the commission of a crime by someone, this issue can be resolved by means of civil law regulations through liability for defamation rather than criminal prosecution.

Considering the aforesaid, we demand that the authors of the draft refrain from transposing the problem of filing a false police report to the field of the media and remove from Article 443 the wording “… or publication of similar information in the mass media.”

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

JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

GORIS PRESS CLUB

SUPREMACY OF LAW

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Attack on Kentron TV

Statement on the attack against “Epikentron” filming-crew

On December 24, 2019, in Hovtashen community of Ararat province, several dozens of residents attacked “Kentron” TV journalist Artur Hakobyan and cameraman Simik Mayilyan, hitting them and damaging the camera. The camera crew managed to save a part of the footage of the incident, which clearly shows the fact of violence.

According to “Epikentron” news agency director Varduhi Meltonyan, “Kentron” TV reporters, along with other media representatives, had arrived in Hovtashen to cover the issues related to the fish farm owned by Sedrak Arustamyan, Director of Multi Group Concern. The saved footage shows that the attack by the residents was targeted and aimed at hindering the work of the very TV company crew.

We, the undersigned journalistic organizations, express our resentment with regard to the obstruction of professional journalistic activities and the violence unleashed. We urge the law enforcement agencies to take measures to identify and bring all those responsible to justice.

 

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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Zhoghovurd Newspaper

Statement on breaking into “Zhoghovurd” daily’s newsroom

On the night of December 19, 2019 unknown persons broke into the editorial office of “Zhoghovurd” daily and, according to the reporters of the newspaper, ransacked the property, opened the drawers, entered the editor’s office, scattered newspapers and papers, most likely trying to find something. According to preliminary information, no computer equipment or other things have been stolen, but the intrusion itself is evidence of an attempt to exert brutal pressure on the media.

We, the undersigned journalistic organizations, strongly condemn the attack against the editorial office, express our support to our colleagues, and demand that law enforcement agencies take all necessary measures to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

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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Digital Broadcasting TV

Statement on granting the Public Television a right to broadcast advertisements

On 11 December the RA Ministry of Justice officially posted on the website www.e-draft.am the draft Law on the Amendments to the RA Law on Television and Radio, which envisages inter alia a right for the Public Television to broadcast advertisements for up to 5 minutes within one broadcast hour.

We, the undersigned organisations, hereby state that this is an entirely unjustified step. The issue of whether the Public Television and Radio Company sponsored from the state budget must have access to the adviertising market had always been resolved by the former authorities arbitrarily depending on the political expediency and very concrete business group interests rather than credible calculations and serious arguments. There is no ground to assume that the current initiative is driven by the public demand while the draft itself raises a number of issues with the relevant expert structures.

We note that this is not the first case that the revolutionary government neglects the need to consult the expert community before adopting important decisions and developing draft legislation.

Considering the justifications attached to the draft law as unacceptable and biased, we demand that:

  • The Ministry of Justice removes the document in question from circulation and holds an open discussion on the issue of advertising by the Public Television;
  • The Television and Radio Commission expresses a public position on whether in addition to budgetary allocations the public broadcaster needs to have access to the advertising market;
  • The Board of the Public Television and Radio Company puts forward additional and more convincing explanations on insufficient budgetary allocations and urgency of broadcasting advertisements, as well as provides clarifications as to why these issues and legislative amendments are being agreed exclusively with the authorities in blatant neglect of the opinions of other stakeholders.

 

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

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Armenian Media Microphones

Statement on Discrimination Against Mass Media by the AIISA

Today, on 29 October, the Armenian Institute of International and Security Affairs prohibited the participation of a number of media organisations to its event entitled “20 Years after the October 27th: A Glance in Retrospect, Lessons and Thoughts.” The day before Styopa Safaryan, founder and head of AIISA, made a note on a Facebook page for mass media, indicating in particular that there would be no entry for the online media outlets “News.am”, “Hayeli.am”, “168.am”, “Yerevan Today”, “7or.am”, “Livenews.am” and the television companies “5th Channel” and «Yerkir Media.”

We, the undersigned organisations, assess this approach as a discrimination in respect of the mass media, which is impermissible and dangerous for the right to freedom of speech. A non-governmental organisation has to be open and be interested in wide coverage of its activities.

Although the reality in the Armenian media landscape is that media outlets serve different political interests, nevertheless non-governmental organisations must not engage in discrimination and be guided by their likes and dislikes.

In view of the aforesaid, we call on the AIISA to review its approach with regard to the media outlets, demonstrate tolerance and exclude discrimination in respect of the media in the future.

 

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER

MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
“JOURNALISTS FOR FUTURE” NGO
“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO
GORIS PRESS CLUB

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"Hayeli" Press Club door after the attack | hayeli.am

Statement on the attack against “Hayeli.am”

On October 5, 2019 a group of young people went to “Hayeli” Press Club and to the editorial office of “Hayeli.am” situated in the same premises, threw eggs and hang “condemning” posters on the wall of the media and the closed office door. They stated that if the editorial office were open, they would have done the same inside. According to the young persons, the motive of this step is the article titled “Aliyev’s belated but powerful response to Pashinyan” published on “Hayeli.am” (later the word “powerful” was replaced by the word “strong” in quotation marks).

Avoiding giving a professional assessment to the title of the publication, we, the undersigned organizations, state that it is an opinion, a judgment, which everyone in a democratic society has the right to express, regardless of whether some people like it or not. Thus, the steps that may undermine or violate that right are unacceptable and condemnable.

At the same time we note that the polarization of the media based on political and financial camps has resulted in a situation when a significant part of the media has become a propaganda tool, primarily serving the interests of their owners and sponsors. All methods of “brainwashing” have been put into practice, including fake news, deliberately distorted facts, biased, misleading comments, etc. This causes outrage among the public, which in some cases is manifested by unacceptable actions.

Based on the above-mentioned, we demand from:

  • the authorities and opposition political parties to make statements and call on their supporters and followers to demonstrate restraint and tolerance towards those, who express different views and opinions;

  • law-enforcement bodies to investigate the incident at Hayeli.am editorial office and, if there are grounds, to apply liability measures;

  • the media serving the interests of different political camps to return to the professional field, to abstain from manipulation, to avoid spreading misinformation, to abide by the norms of journalistic ethics, to respect and represent the diversity of opinions in society.

 

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER

MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA

“ASPAREZ” JOURNALISTS’ CLUB

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER

PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB

“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE” NGO

GORIS PRESS CLUB

“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO

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