On November 14 in the Civil Court of Yerevan a session on the suit of Artur
Ghevondian, RA Police Officer, versus “Aravot” daily was held. As it has been
reported, the litigation reason was “If Your Neighbor Is a Policeman” article,
published in “Aravot” on June 25, 2008. The plaintiff decided that this communication
is discrediting his honor and dignity and demanded that the daily be committed
to a refutation. During the hearing that started on October 21, 2008, the respondent
asked the plaintiff to point out the specific phrases used in the piece and
qualified as discrediting. On October 22 Artur Ghevondian presented the necessary
specifications. On October 24 the author of the publication, the correspondent
of “Aravot” Ruzan Minasian, on her behalf, addressed the Media Ethics Observatory
to make an expert assessment of the article. On October 31 the Media Ethics
Observatory made its assessment, stating that the piece “does not contain unequivocal
violations of the Code of Conduct and the internationally recognized standards”.
The phrases that the plaintiff challenges as “information discrediting to honor
and dignity” and “factual mistakes”, in the opinion of the MEO, “are not facts
but conclusions or opinions, based on the facts, quoted in the article”. The
several strong expressions, used in the piece, while being reflective of the
stereotypes in the society, cannot, however, “be qualified as insult from the
viewpoint of professional journalistic ethics, either”, the MEO said (see YPC
Weekly Newsletter, October 31
– November 6, 2008).
At the session of November 14 Ruzan Minasian presented this assessment to the
court. Artur Ghevondian announced that if “Aravot” published the assessment,
he would revoke the suit. The next day, November 15, the daily published the
text of the expert assessment of the Media Ethics Observatory on “If Your
Neighbor Is a Policeman” article. On November 18 the court secured the petition
of Artur Ghevondian about revoking the suit. The ruling on the case will be
announced on November 26.
Thus, a precedent has appeared in Armenia. For the first time, upon the request
of a party, the self-regulation body makes an assessment on the litigation subject,
and the opponent party, being satisfied with the content and publicizing of
the document, revokes the suit.
The Media Ethics Observatory was set up on March 10, 2007 by the heads of Armenian
media that supported the self-regulation initiative of Yerevan Press Club (see
YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 9-15,
2007). The mission of the MEO is to study the complaints on the violations
of the Code of Conduct of Media Representatives and making judgments on them.
As of today, the Code of Conduct and the appendix to it, the Declaration of
Election and Referenda Coverage Principles, is signed by 31 media. The initiative
is also supported by 8 journalistic associations.