Quarterly report of CPFE on Situation with Freedom of Expression and Violations of Rights of Journalists and Media in Armenia (July-September, 2020)

The third quarter of 2020 was a difficult period for the Armenian media, primarily due to the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, followed by the the armed conflict in Nagorno Karabakh and the martial law declared in Armenia. Both Armenian and foreign journalists worked in life-threatening conditions. The war was waged not only on the battlefield, but also in the information domain. During this period, numerous cases of hacker attacks by Azerbaijan, also targeting news websites, were registered, the consequences of which were quickly eliminated by Armenian specialists. The newly emerged situation was accompanied by the quarantine due to the new coronavirus epidemic, which sometimes led to disproportionate or unfounded restrictions of media operations.
In general, the trend of increasing numbers of lawsuits against journalists and media outlets sustained during the quarter. Their number is exactly the same as in the previous quarter, namely 22 cases. The plaintiffs are both representatives of the current and former authorities or persons affiliated with them and ordinary citizens. Pressure was applied  on journalists, accompanied by unfavorable or insulting treatment. In this sense, NA Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, NA Deputy Speaker Alen Simonyan, the initiator of the “VETO” movement Narek Malyan, the former RA Chief of Police Vladimir Gasparyan were the most prominent perpetrators of such behavior. The latter, by the way, was accused of obstructing the professional activities of Radio Liberty correspondents. Cases of abuse of power by law enforcement agencies and interference in the activities of the media due to the state of emergency registered, too, hence journalistic organizations issued statements in this connection.
In the third quarter, the number of violations of the right to receive and disseminate information increased. 34 cases were registered against the 26 in the previous quarter. No physical violence against journalists was registered in the reporting period.

In total, 81 cases of violations of the rights of journalists and the media were recorded during the reporting period. 47 of them were cases of pressure on the media and their employees, 34 were violations of the right to receive and disseminate information, no case of physical violence was registered.



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