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 has been providing interim quarterly reports on the situation of freedom of expression in Armenia, violations of rights of media and journalists, including legislative changes, recommendations and procedures regulating the field, the influence of the economic environment and political factors on the media.
The first quarter of 2012 was a period preceding and partially including the Campaign of May 6, 2012 parliamentary elections. So the journalists’ accreditation procedure in the Central Electoral Commission confirmed by its January 31, 2012 decision, N 18-N attracted a special attention. During its regular meeting held on March 15, the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) made changes to that order, taking into account the concern expressed by the journalistic society.
Another legislative procedure concerning the media took place during the pre-electoral period. The RA National Assembly on its third hearing totally adopted the RA law “On the Legal Regime of State of Emergency.” Point 12 of Article 7 of the above-mentioned law envisages restriction of the right to freedom of speech during state of emergency. That document was widely criticized.
On March 19, the RA National Assembly began to discuss the draft changes and amendments to the RA Law “On Television and Radio” developed by three journalistic organizations: Yerevan Press Club (YPC), the “Internews” NGO and the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression (CPFE).
In the first quarter of 2012 it became obvious that the print media are in a very bad financial and economic state. As a result, the “Hetq” weekly stopped to be published, and the “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily turned to the readers of its online version for financial support.
There is a positive trend concerning the decrease in the number of cases of physical violence against journalists, as well as in the number of lawsuits against media and journalists. No cases of physical violence against journalists were fixed during the first quarter of 2012. By the way, there were also no cases of physical violence against journalists in the first quarter of 2011. During the first quarter of 2012 the CPFE fixed 6 new cases of pressure on media and media staff and 5 cases of violation of the right to seek and disseminate information.
See the details below.