YPC Weekly Newsletter

2009


“HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH”: ARMENIA EXPERIENCED ONE OF ITS MOST SERIOUS CRISES SINCE INDEPENDENCE

On January 14 the international “Human Rights Watch” organization
released its report on human rights practices in over 90 countries of the world
in 2008.

After February 2008 presidential elections Armenia experienced one of its most
serious civil and political rights crises since independence, the report says
in the section dealing with Armenia. Particularly, with the introduction of
the state of emergency several basic freedoms were restricted, including the
freedom of expression and access to information. As to the situation with media
freedom, the report stresses, that “the police targeted journalists covering
the February demonstrations”. “Human Rights Watch” lists cases
of interfering with journalists’ work by the law enforcement bodies in the post
election period in Yerevan and Gyumri: incidents with freelance journalist Gagik
Shamshian on February 29 and March 1, with the correspondent of the Armenian
Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Ruzanna Stepanian on March 1 and
others.

The report notes, that while the state of emergency was in action publications
in media on state and internal political issues was only allowed using official
information. RA National Security Service hindered publication of at least seven
opposition and independent newspapers and blocked web-sites, even after March
13, when changes to the Decree on State of Emergency was modified, the report
says.

“Human Rights Watch” touches upon the two court decisions: the European
Court of Human Rights ruling of June 17, 2008 on the case filed by the founder
of “A1+” TV company, “Meltex” LLC, against the Republic
of Armenia, and the RA Cassation Court ruling of October 31 on the case of “GALA”
TV company of Gyumri. The refusals to grant a broadcast license to “A1+”
were recognized by European Court as a violation of Article 10 of the European
Convention on Human Rights, i.e., of the right of the applicant to freely impart
information and ideas. As to “GALA”, the highest court instance of
Armenia abolished the ruling of court of general jurisdiction of Shirak region
on dispute between Gyumri municipality and founder of “GALA”, “CHAP” LLC, thus
allowing the TV company continue usage of the city TV tower.

The report also speaks about the arson attempt on Gyumri Journalists’ Club
“Asparez” on January 19 and torching the car of “Asparez”
President on March 21; about beating of the “Haikakan Zhamanak” correspondent
Lusine Barseghian on August 11 and Acting Director of the Yerevan Bureau of
the Armenian Service of RFE/RL Hrach Melkumian on August 18; about the rejection
of the Commission on Early Release and Release on Parole to early release the
Editor-in-Chief of the “Zhamanak-Yerevan” newspaper Arman Babajanian.