The wave of filing claims against media outlets seems to have been renewed with stronger force. Considering their honor and business reputation spotted, plaintiffs estimate the damage with a seven-digit figure making promises to transfer the money to an orphanage. From Christian view point it is interesting whether this transfer is considered as real charity or not, because it is known that mercy is acceptable if it is not an expression of income suppress, but sacrifice from fairly deserved earnings…
In 2009 the founder of “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily was obliged to pay AMD 3mln as a fine for the publication entitled “Adventures of Robertich in Dubai.”
Levon Kocharyan, the younger son of Armenia’s second president, considering his honor and reputation spotted, made an appeal to the court with the demand of publishing a disclaimer and paying compensation.
2010 was a stormy period of changes in the legislation referring to media. Decriminalization of libel and insult was of great importance at that time. Despite the fact that experts of various journalistic organizations estimated this process as positive, however, current events show that these legislative changes were predetermined as a financial bludgeon against media.
And though the concepts “libel” and “insult” are clearly defined by legislation, however, the personal perception and interpretation of the “insult” edge is extremely wide.
Unfortunately, it is almost difficult even to imagine a just and objective verdict by the judiciary of our country, when on one scale pan there is the freedom of speech of a mortal being, an on the other one – the subjective perception of the honor of a solid person…
On December 9, 2010, other members of the Korcharyan family filed a claim against “Zhamanak” daily. In September and October, 2010, the daily published articles stating that Bella Kocharyan is involved in medication business, the Kocharyan family has diamond mines in Namibia, and lately Sedrak Kocharyan has obtained similar mines in India, etc.
According to “1in.am”, the representative of Bella and Sedrak Kocharyan wrote a letter to “Zhamanak” editorial office pointing out that the publication contained “inadequate information” and asking to disclaim “factual inaccuracies.” It is interesting that in October the newspaper published the demanded disclaimer, however, Kocharyans considered this publication insulting as well. The newspaper reminded its readership to which article this disclaimer referred to, which in its turn was perceived as a second round of dissemination of the information.
The website believes this to have served as a basis for Kocharyans to have filed a claim demanding the newspaper to publish a disclaimer and compensate the damage of libel in the amount of AMD 6mln.
Making any comments about this issue seems to be an ungrateful thing because of a simple reason based on the example of “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily, which had also reminded previously to which article its disclaimer referred to and wasn’t brought to court.
In this case the issue at stake is the amount of compensation. The demand, of course, is the accuracy of the information, but it is not clear how is that accuracy weighed when every time it stops on a seven-digit figure – 3.000.000 in one case and 6.000.000 in the other, and 2.044.000 multiplied by 3 in the third case …
The last one is a fresh story, which again deals with “Haykakan Zhamanak.” According to February 7 decision of the court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan, the founder of the newspaper was obliged to pay compensation of AMD 6,132,000 this time to the members of National Assembly and well-known businessmen Ruben Hayrapetyan, Levon Sargsyan and Samvel Aleksanyan who had appealed the information of the article entitled “Seven out of eight are on the list” published on October 14, 2010.
The court decision was based on Part 1 of Article 1087 of the RA Civil Code, which refers to “Order of compensation and conditions for slandering good name, honor and business reputation.” A very important article, which has recently been used as a revenge tool against media. How can otherwise all these incidents be explained which seem to be well organized campaigns against certain print media outlets with the demand of big amount of compensations?
Thus, on February 4, the same court of general jurisdiction started reviewing the case of Arrhythmology Cardiology Center of Armenia LLC against “news.am” website based on the article “Arrythmology center cheated the patient with heart disease and installed another device” published on November 23, 2010.
On that day another session on the same issue was scheduled for “Aravot” daily. In both cases the plaintiff demanded a disclaimer and compensation in the amount of AMD 2mln and AMD 300ths for attorney expenses. By the way, none of these articles gave way to recording violation of journalistic ethics, because both media outlets had checked the information with the future plaintiff. It only remains to hope for the best …
The plaintiff of another incident is the head of Lernapat community, the damage of whose good honor and business reputation was estimated in the amount of AMD 2.000.000. He filed a claim to Lori court of general jurisdiction against Artur Sakunts, the head of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office. In December 8 issue of “Vanadzor mosaic,” in his interview Sakunts made an announcement about the head of the community, which the plaintiff treated as a libel.
A couple of days ago “Yerkir” daily also appeared in the court with the claim of National Assembly deputy Tigran Arzaqanyan. As for “Zhamanak” daily, it also has issues to settle with “Glendale Hills” company.
It is worth reminding that authors of bills on making amendments to media-related laws are representatives of three parties of the coalition. Have they programmed first to implement legislative changes and then to make pressures on undesirable media outlets through judiciary?
P.S. The publication was ready when it became known that five journalistic organizations, among them also the CPFE, had made an announcement concerning the judicial cases against media, directing it to the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, judiciary and media.