On January 31 the international “Human Rights Watch” organization released
its report on human rights practices in over 75 countries of the world in 2007.
In the reports section dealing with Armenia the media freedom and freedom of
speech in the country are discussed, too. In particular, “Human Rights Watch”
notes: notwithstanding that on July 3 parliament turned down the amendments
to media laws that effectively would have banned the broadcasts of Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty and other foreign broadcasters on public television and
radio, the broadcasting of the RFE/RL Armenian Service on Public Radio of Armenia
was stopped and is now implemented on private networks.
“Journalists continue to face threats, harassment and criminal charges”, the
report says and quotes the examples of the assault on the Chief Editor of “Iskakan
Iravunk” newspaper Hovhannes Galajian on September 15, 2007, the arsons of cars
of the founder of “Football Plus” weekly Suren Baghdasarian in the morning of
January 30, 2007 and the Chairman of the editorial board of “My Right” newspaper
and Panorama.am news portal Ara Saghatelian on February 8, 2007, the sentence,
made on June 6, 2007, to the free-lance journalist Gagik Shamshian, who was
attacked and harassed due to an article he had published, yet charges were further
introduced not to the assaulters but to the journalist himself. The report also
mentions that on January 12, 2007 the Court of Appeals lessened the sentence
of the Chief Editor of “Zhamanak-Yerevan” daily Arman Babajanian, who was earlier
convicted for 4 years’ imprisonment for document fraud to evade military service.
The sentence of the journalist had been considered unnecessarily harsh.