ON VIOLATED RIGHTS OF JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA IN ARMENIA
2008 was a year of severe trials for the Armenian mass media. The regressive trends observed in the field of information during the latest 6 years further intensified in the
environment of confrontation between the authorities and the opposition caused by the recent presidential election in the country. This often occurred in post-soviet
Armenia, which is confirmed by the previous studies undertaken by the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression: as a rule, when the internal political situation
worsens, the freedom of mass media is attacked more vigorously. Still, the year 2008 is unprecedented not only for the number of cases of violation of the rights of
journalists and mass media, but also for the facts of censorship applied towards mass media.
According to the journalist associations of the country, the extremely biased coverage of political developments by the majority of television companies before and during
the elections in 2008, as well as in the post-election period, was the direct consequence of the intensified pressure by the authorities – first of all, on the mass
media. The state of emergency declared in Yerevan on March 1 -20 was combined with the illegal introduction of preliminary censorship of printed media outlets,
blocking of internet portals, and harassment for dissent.
Practically, every severe violation of the rights of journalists and mass media, cases of violence against media representatives, restrictive measures towards freedom of
speech in Armenia drew the adequate response of international organizations. Namely, on February 21 the Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres
(RSF)) made an appeal to punish those guilty of the attacks on the journalists reporting on the presidential election in Armenia. “The authorities shall consider these
incidents seriously, – the organization stated. – The journalists just did their job”. On February 22 the international on organization Human Rights Watch made a
statement regarding the cases of violence and intimidation at polling stations and called upon the authorities of Armenia to investigate the offences against the
observers and journalists on the day of the presidential election.