On March 4 RA Government approved the Model Procedure for Accrediting Journalists in the State Administration (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 5-11, 2004). After our repeated addresses to the author of the Model Procedure, RA Ministry of Justice, the text of the ratified document was finally provided. The draft of this sublegislative act was subject of detailed and constructive discussion with a number of journalistic associations and media. In particular, Yerevan Press Club, Journalists Union of Armenia, Internews Armenia and the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression made their suggestions to the Ministry of Justice on amending several provisions of the Procedure.
Thus the mentioned organizations proposed to introduce in the Procedure a provision on prohibiting any form of censorship of accredited journalist’s professional activity by a state institution. This suggestion was introduced in the ratified text of the document.
According to the journalistic associations, the draft of the Model Procedure presented extra obstacles for accreditation. The latter ones were removed, similarly to the point providing for the cases in which the journalist is not eligible for accreditation. Alongside this, the professional organizations proposed to stipulate for the ban on filing any claims except the ones specified in the point determining the accreditation procedure. This suggestion was not included in the official document ratified by the Government.
The journalistic organizations also suggested that accreditation limitations be purely technical, in particular, be conditioned, for instance, by the absence of proper venues at the disposal of a state administration body, etc. However, the final version of the Procedure preserved the quantitative limitation as well: no more than two journalists and two photo correspondents/two cameramen from each media.
The suggestion on simplifying the procedure of access of media representatives in state administration body – by identification card and list of accredited journalists – was partially accepted.
On the initiative of journalistic organizations, a point was added in the Model Procedure obligating the ministries no less than twice a month to provide journalists with a summary report of their activity, as for the ministers – no less than once in half a year to inform about the work done at a press conference.
Thus, the ratified document may be the result of a certain compromise between the Ministry of Justice and journalistic organizations. However, it is necessary to admit that on the basis of this sublegislative act each state administration body develops its own accreditation regulations. The latter ones and their implementation will allow assessing appropriateness and effectiveness of the Model Procedure.