On April 13 an attempt was made at the General Jurisdiction Court of Shengavit Administrative District to restrict unlawfully the lawful professional activities of Ami Chichakyan, the reporter of Aravot.am. The reporter had arrived at the court to cover the trial of Venera Torosyan, the chairperson of the district electoral committee accused of multiple voting for other persons on the day of the referendum to constitutional amendments.
Prior to the court sitting Judge Nelly Baghdasaryan informed the reporter of Aravot.am that Venera Torosyan is against videoing the court sitting. Later Venera Torosyan announced she did not want the court session to be covered at all.
In answer to the reporter’s argument that the court sitting is open, and the case is of public interest, Judge Nelly Baghdasaryan said it was a matter inviolability of a person and confidentiality of personal data.
Armine Fanyan, the advocate of the accused, threatened the reporter of Aravot.am that if her defendant’s name appeared in any publication, the media would have problems.
The court granted the motion of the accused and her advocate and decided to prohibit the coverage of the court sitting.
Nevertheless, after consulting lawyers and media experts, Ami Chichakyan covered the trial.
Considering that the issue is topical and referring to the clause of Article 4 of the RA Law on the Dissemination of Mass Information prohibiting compelling “the implementer of media activity or a journalist to disseminate or refrain from the dissemination of information”, we the undersigned demand:
- That the judge void the decision because there is no legal framework for prohibiting media coverage of an open court sitting, especially provided a strident and important case to the public;
- That the counsel for the defense refrain from threats against journalists as such an act is liable under Article 164 of the RA Criminal Code and apologize to Ami Chichakyan, the reporter of Aravot.am, for the incident.
We call on Aravot.am and other mass media outlets:
- Not to retreat from such and other similar unlawful restrictions, resist, adhere to the professional principles and cover all the events of public importance.
COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER (FORMER INTERNEWS)
ASPAREZ CLUB OF JOURNALISTS
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA
JOURNALISTS FOR FUTURE NGO
JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS NGO
GORIS PRESS CLUB