On July 4 the court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash communities
of Yerevan nullified the decision of the administration of “Hospital for Convicts”
on April 3, 2008 on the case of the Chief Editor of “Zhamanak-Yerevan” daily
Arman Babajanian. As it has been reported, at the meeting of April 3 the administration
of “Hospital for Convicts” criminal executive institution refused the application
of Arman Babajanian with a request to administration to file a petition with
the Commission on Early Release and Release on Parole. Sentenced to 3.5 years’
imprisonment for document fraud to avoid military service, the head of “Zhamanak-Yerevan”
in July and December 2007 twice petitioned the Commission on Early Release and
Release on Parole, and was refused both times. At the session of July 1, 2008
the administration of “Hospital for Convicts” did not discuss the petition of
the early release of Arman Babajanian, as after the refusal, received on April
3, the journalist could only address the administration with a application only
three months after (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, June
27 – July 3, 2008).
Thus, in accordance with the court ruling of July 4, 2008, the administration
of “Hospital for Convicts” is to consider the application of Arman Babajanian.
On July 3 the Executive Director of Europe and Central Asia Division of “Human
Rights Watch” international organization Holly Cartner addressed a letter to
the RA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsian and the RA Minister of Justice Gevorg
Danielian to support Arman Babajanian. The letter stressed that the Chief Editor
of “Zhamanak-Yerevan” has already spent two years in prison and the 1.5 years
that he has yet to serve are disproportionate to the offense: normally the punishments
for such offences does not exceed 2-3 years of imprisonment. Holly Cartner urged
the authorities to take into account the good conduct of Arman Babajanian and
support the request of his early release. “Babajanian’s release would send a
positive signal to both Armenia’s international partners and to Armenian public
that you and other senior officials are concerned about the present critical
state of human rights in Armenia and taking concrete steps to address particular
concerns”, the letter of Executive Director of Europe and Central Asia Division
of “Human Rights Watch” Holly Cartner concluded.
An appeal for an early release of the Chief Editor of “Zhamanak-Yerevan” to
the country authorities was also made by the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
In the statement issued on July 8 the CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator
Nina Ognyanova stressed: “Arman Babajanian’s real ‘crime’ was his critical journalism.
Though he pleaded guilty to draft evasion, he was slammed with an excessively
harsh sentence. We strongly urge Armenia’s new leadership to do the right thing
and mend the country’s tarnished press freedom record by granting early release
to Babajanian and allowing him to work as a journalist without fear of reprisal.”
On July 8 to execute the ruling of the court of general jurisdiction of Kentron
and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan the administration of “Hospital for Convicts”
addressed a plight for the early release of Arman Babajanian to the Commission
on Early Release and Release on Parole.