ON THE STATE OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN ARMENIA AND VIOLATIONS OF THE RIGHTS OF JOURNALISTS AND THE MASS MEDIA
The Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression imparts on the public on a quarterly and annual basis reports on the environment of the Armenian media and media workers, the state of freedom of expression, and the violations of the rights of the mass media and journalists.
The year 2013 was a considerably tense period for the Armenian media and journalists. This was so due to unfavourable conditions for the media and their workers in the light of a number of serious events in the domestic political and social life. In particular, this year was noteworthy for the presidential and Yerevan Council elections, as well as a number of civic movements (against the attempt to raise the urban transport fare, to transform Yerevan ‘Closed Marked’ into a ‘Yerevan City’ supermarket, Armenia’s accession to the ‘Customs Union’). This kind of events are normally accompanied by tense socio-political relations and limitations threatening freedom of expression, which leads to an increased number of incidents of intolerance to journalistic work. The CPFE has drawn attention to this regularity by registering very clear facts.
In particular, on 18 February, the day of the RA presidential elections, 2 incidents of violence against journalists occurred. 4 other incidents of obstruction to the professional activities of journalists were recorded. 1 case of phisical violence was registered at the time of the election campaign for Yerevan Council elections, while on 5 May, the day of voting 8 other incident of obstruction to the professional journalistic activities occurred. 3 cases of violence and 6 incidents also occurred in respect of journalists covering the aforementioned civic movements.
The year also marked a considerable increase in the number of civil defamation and insult suits against the media and journalists (including as a third party): the CPFE registered 24 such judicial cases (in 2012 they were 17).
Hence, in 2013 in total the CPFE registered 10 cases of physical violence (which was more by 6 compared with 2012), 57 diverse incidents of pressure on the mass media and their workers (which was more by 20 compared with 2012) and 10 facts of violations of the right to receive and impart information (which was less by 13 compared with 2012).
Thus, in 2013 the violations of the rights of the media and journalists increased by and large compared with 2012 and reached 77 (see tables 1 and 2).
The following merits attention in terms of the legislative amendments regulating the mass media.