HATE SPEECH IN THE ARMENIAN MASS MEDIA

Summary Report

Based on the Monitoring Data of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression

INTRODUCTION

In April-December 2013, the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, with the assistance of the Open Society Foundations – Armenia, conducted monitoring of the Armenian mass media to detect hate speech in their publications. The monitoring team believes that this study allows detecting the number and nature of hate speech and may help the Armenian media to reduce to a significant degree or eliminate completely the use of hate speech in their publications.

From 18 to 31 March the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression held a pilot monitoring with a view to improving the monitoring methodology. This was followed by the study conducted in two stages. The first stage covered the months of April-July 2013 and an interim report was published (See the rubric Monitorings of www.khosq.am) . The second stage covered the months of August-December. This report summarizes the nine-month monitoring data.

9 Armenian media were monitored, of which 3 television companies (H1 public television, Yerkir Media,  Kentron), 3 print media (the dailies Azg, Haykakan Zhamanak, Hayots Ashkharh) and 3 online media (www.1in.am, www.7or.am, www.tert.am). The object of monitoring of the television companies was the main broadcasts of news programmes (Hyelour on H1, Yerkirn Aysor on Yerkir Media and Epikentron on Kentron), as well as the analytical programmes succeeding these broadcasts (Tesankyun, Yerkri Hartsy and Ourvagits, respectively).

All publications except for commercial, political and social advertisements and announcement were considered and monitored in the aforementioned print and online media.

The study was conducted in the light of the provisions of the RA Constitution and legislation prohibiting hatred and hostility, as well as the Recommendations no R (97) 20, R (97) 21 and R (99) 1 of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on defining hate speech, developing a culture of tolerance in the media and supporting pluralism.

In particular, Article 14.1 of the RA Constitution states: ’Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, belonging to a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or other personal or social circumstances shall be prohibited.’[1]. And Article 47 states: ’Everyone shall be obliged to honor the Constitutions and laws, to respect the rights, freedoms and dignity of others. The exercise of rights and freedoms with the purpose of … inciting national, racial and religious hatred, … shall be prohibited.’[2]

As regards the Recommendations of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, the Appendix to the Recommendation no R (97) 20 offers the following definition: „the term “hate speech” shall be understood as covering all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, antisemitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin.”[3] Furthermore, Principle 3 of the above instrument defines that ’ freedom of expression must be reconciled with respect for human dignity and the protection of the reputation or the rights of others.’[4] Recommendation No R (97) 21 stresses the imortance of respecting everyone’s dignity, rights and libertes without discrimination of any kind, such as sexual, racial, linguistic, religious, political, national, social or proprietal, etc.[5]

Incidentally, in May-November 2013 Armenia assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. In the November 14 session of the CoE Committee of Ministers the RA Foreign Minister, summarizing the six-month activities of the Committee under Armenian chairmanship, stressed in his speech that Armenia’s priorities included fight against racism and xenophobia, entrenching the European values by means of inter-cultural dialogue, strengthening of international human righs and rule of law standards, building of a democratic society and enhancing the role of the CoE in European architecture.[6]

In conformity with the aforementioned principles, the publications and videomaterials in the mass media were monitored by topics under the following groups: hatred on the racial, national, political, social, linguistic, religious, sexual, etc. Grounds. At the same time, account was taken of the following criteria: the existence of hate speech, what does a particular expression say (which thematic group it belongs to), what is the editorial office’s attitude to this speech (criticism, consent, neutrality), who is the author of hate speech (journalist, politician/ public official, academic/expert, NGO representative/public figure, representative of an international/foreign organization, vox populi, religious figure, etc.), what is the source of information containing hate speech (the monitored media outlet, other local media, foreign media).



[1]. RA Constitution, Article 14.1.

[2]. RA Constitution 47.

[3]. ‘The Field of Mass Media in the Council of Europe Instruments’  (The second updated edition), Yerevan, 2003, p. 132.

[4]. Ibid., p. 134.

[5]. Ibid., p. 135.

[6]. The speech of Edward Nalbandyan, RA Foreign Minister, the Chairman of the CoE Committee of Ministers in the session of the CoE Committee of Ministers, http://www.mfa.am/hy/press-releases/item/2013/11/14/coe_pre/

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