On December 17 at Yerevan Press Club another session of the Media Ethics Observatory was held. As it has been reported, the Media Ethics Observatory was elected on March 10 2007 at a meeting of heads of media and journalistic associations, who supported the YPC initiative to jointly develop the main norms of professional ethics and further follow them in their day-to-day activities. The Media Ethics Observatory lists 7 members: Hagop Avedikian (Chief Editor of “Azg” daily), Levon Barseghian (Chairman of the Board of “Asparez” Journalist’s Club of Gyumri), Astghik Gevorgian (Chairwoman of the Union of Journalists of Armenia), Emmanuil Mkrtchian (General Director of “Arminfo” news agency), Mesrop Movsesian (President of “Meltex” LLC), Boris Navasardian (Yerevan Press Club President), Lilit Simonian (lawyer, Head of the Center of Right and Information). The mission of the MEO consists in considering the complaints-appeals regarding the violation of the Code of Conduct and presenting its opinion on them. The Code of Conduct and its appendix, the Declaration on Election and Referendum Coverage Principles, is joined by 31 media as of today. The initiative is also supported by 8 journalistic associations. The first judgments of the MEO were made on September 12 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 14-20, 2007).
At the session of December 17 the Media Ethics Observatory made a decision on the complaint of Knarik Mehrabian regarding the article by Ruzan Minasian “No Money Charged from the Deceased”, published in “Aravot” daily on October 11, 2007. The publication quoted the letter of A.M., convinced for a murder committed in 2002 and pleading not guilty. The article caused the indignation of the family and friends of the deceased, including Knarik Mehrabian. Her appeal said in particular that the author of the article fully based her story on the letter, without meeting the heirs of the victim, was not present at the court proceedings, and hence the narration was one-sided.
The complaint was considered at three MEO sessions, in the course of its consideration the explanations of the “Aravot” Chief Editor Aram Abrahamian and the daily’s correspondent Ruzan Minasian were heard. As a result, the MEO made a decision to abstain from a judgment on Ruzan Minasian’s article. At the same time the Chief Editor of “Aravot” received a letter with an analysis of the compliance of the publication with the Code of Conduct.
The Media Ethics Observatory stressed that such a decision is due to two factors: the complaint held insults to the address of Ruzan Minasian; on the day the article was published, October 11, the relatives of the victim came to the editorial office of “Aravot” starting a scuffle, resulting in light corporal injuries of Ruzan Minasian. While understanding the state of people who suffered through a loss, the MEO still found the behavior unacceptable.
As it has been reported, on the incident in “Aravot” editorial office the Police of Center Community of Yerevan instituted criminal proceedings on Article 164 of the RA Criminal Code ("Impeding of legitimate professional activities of a journalist”). 7 participants of the attack on Ruzan Minasian were listed on the case as suspects (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 12-18, 2007). On December 6 Ruzan Minasian made an appeal to the police to stop the criminal proceedings, putting forth no claims. As YPC was told by Ruzan Minasian, she took into account the remorse of these people, the apologies they made and their emotions after the murder of a family member.