YPC Weekly Newsletter



On March 30 International Press Institute (IPI), based in Vienna, published
its annual world press freedom review for 2005. Having studied the situation
in various countries, IPI concluded that “in virtually every region of the world
the media are engaged in a struggle to uphold their fundamental right to report
news”. Similarly to 2004, in 2005 journalism remained one of the most dangerous
professions: within a year, 65 journalists in 22 countries were killed while
on duty, including 23 in Iraq. Among the events mostly influencing the freedom
of press, IPI mentions the terrorist act in London on July 7 and the political
debates over the cartoons of Mohammad Prophet, published by “Jyllands-Posten”
Danish newspaper on September 30. Commenting on the situation in general, IPI
Director Johann P. Fritz notes: “A free media has always been essential to democracy;
however, 2005 saw a subtle shift in this thinking and there is now a worrying
political mindset that views some of the media’s work as damaging to both the
war on terror and relations with Islam.”

In the section on Armenia, several cases of pressure on media and journalists
are cited. In particular, IPI refers to the continuous attempts of the National
Academy of Sciences to evict “A1+” TV company from its premises, and that in
2006 the European Court of Human Rights will most likely consider the suit on
depriving “A1+” of air in 2002. The IPI review also mentions the incident on
the night of April 1 in Goris with the car of Chief Editor of “Syunyats Yerkir”
newspaper Samvel Alexanian burnt down.

International Press Institute also paid attention to the constitutional reform
in Armenia. The IPI review quotes the July 13 joint statement of the seven journalistic
organizations (Yerevan Press Club, Journalists Union of Armenia, Internews Armenia,
Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, Investigative Journalists, “TEAM”
Research Center and “Asparez” Journalists’ Club of Gyumri – Ed.),
which criticized the provisions of constitutional amendments on the freedom
of expression and media. In particular, it is about inadequate guarantees for
independence of the National Commission on Television and Radio, regulating
private broadcasting, and the absence of the provisions on the formation of
the Council of Public TV and Radio Company. The IPI review runs that Media organizations
on July 27 released another joint statement, criticizing the July 21 Final Opinion
of the Council of Europe Venice Commission, which positively evaluated the latest
version of the draft of constitutional amendments, proposed by the Armenian
authorities. The review emphasizes that journalistic organizations believe,
“The Commission’s proposals on the freedom, independence, and diversity of mass
media are flawed and cannot put in place the necessary guarantees of freedom
of speech in Armenia.”