Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression
Quarterly Report On the Situation with Freedom of Speech and Violations of Rights of Journalists and Media in Armenia
Starting from 2010, the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression will provide interim quarterly reports, in addition to annual reports, on the situation with freedom of speech, including the following:
1. Legislation on the freedom of speech and media, amendments to such legislation and related processes;
2. The economic environment and its influence on the media;
3. The political environment and its influence on the media;
4. Violations of rights of the media and journalists.
The first quarterly report was presented on April 8, 2010.
This report covers the period of April-June 2010.
1. Legislation on the Freedom of Speech and Media
The second quarter of 2010, as well as January-March, was marked with legal initiatives on freedom of expression and media.
On May 18, the National Assembly adopted the package of draft laws “On the amendments and supplements to the RA Civil Code”, “On the amendments to the RA Criminal Code”, “On the amendments to the RA Criminal Procedure Code”. The initiators of the draft laws are representatives of three parties of the coalition: Hovhannes Sahakyan (Republican Party of Armenia – RPA), Hovhannes Margaryan (Orinats Yerkir Party – Country of Law), Ruben Gevorgyan (Prosperous Armenia Party – PAP). These draft laws envisaged decriminalization of libel and insult, i.e. violations of these laws transferred from the regulation field of the Criminal Code to the Civil Code field. The main issue of the package was “On the amendments and supplements to the RA Civil Code”. After the first reading (March 18, 2010, see CTFE first quarterly report), the RA NA Standing Committee on State-and-Legal Issues organized parliamentary hearings. Then a task group was formed to make amendments and supplements to the draft law. Though, after the changes some concerns were disseminated, according to some experts until there is Article 333 in the Criminal Code (False denunciation), the formulations of which only slightly differ from the libel, there is always the threat for the mass media to be subject to criminal responsibility.
In the draft law “On the amendments and supplements to the RA Civil Code” adopted in the first reading, there was a dangerous provision in the formulation “Insult”, according to which insult was considered to be an opinion or estimating judgment.
Due to the suggestion of the CPFE experts, it was surpassed in the adopted law, as well as the following was added, “According to this law, the public expression in this situation and its content can be considered as a non insult if it is based on concrete facts or is accounted for by an overwhelming public benefit.”