ON VIOLATED RIGHTS OF JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA IN ARMENIA
In terms of intensity of attacks on free expression and the number of violations of rights of journalists and media year 2009 can be conventionally subdivided into two unique periods: the first half a year was characterized by the same negative trends that were most distinct in the previous year, 2008, the second half was a period of relative calm.
In early 2009 the influential international organizations published annual reports on the human rights situations in 2008. In these documents the situation in Armenia was described in very critical tone. In particular, “Human Rights Watch”, “Freedom House”, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and others in their conclusions stated that in 2008 the law enforcement bodies of Armenia impeded the professional activities of journalists, that cases of intimidation and violence against media representatives that remain unpunished result in self-censorship and restricted freedom of expression.
Meanwhile in the first half of 2009 such infringements were none the less than in 2008, which was unrivaled in this regard within the past decade. On October 20, 2009 “Reporters without Borders” (RSF) international organization published its annual world media freedom index. The research was administered in 175 counties and was based on the assessment of the developments that had taken place during the period of September 1, 2008 till August 31, 2009. The continuing deterioration of Armenia’s index (111th place) that had gone down 8 ranks as compared to the previous research is explained by RSF to be due to the facts of physical violence against journalists as well as the political tension that adversely affected the media and the society in general.
With regard to violence and other forms of pressure against journalists and media, the peak coincided with the elections to Yerevan Council of Elderly that took place on May 31, 2009. In this regard, the situation largely resembled that during the presidential campaign of 2008. Again the sad trend was confirmed: with the domestic political tensions increasing the attacks on free media become more frequent, too.
Overall, in 2009 fewer violations of rights of journalists and media than in 2008 were recorded. Yet, the overall situation and the trends cannot but be alarming. As statistics show (based on the findings of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression), even during a relatively calm year Armenia has quite a number of right infringements of media and journalists. Below a comparative table of findings for 2008 and 2009 is presented.