YPC Weekly Newsletter

2009


FIDH/OMCT REPORT: IN 2008 FREEDOM OF THE MEDIA WITNESSED A CONSIDERABLE REGRESSION IN ARMENIA

On June 26 the annual report of International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)
and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) on the situation of human rights
and human rights defenders for 2008 in different countries of the world was
presented in Yerevan.

In the report section dealing with Armenia it is mentioned that after presidential
elections in February 2008 the country “experienced the most violent repression
of recent years”. In particular, the state of emergency of March 1, 2008 “resulted
in a temporary ban on the independent media”. The pursuit of independent journalists
continued even after it was lifted. In 2008 the freedom of media witnessed a
considerable regression, the report notes and brings as an argument the amendments
to the RA Law “On Television and Radio” passed by the Armenian parliament on
September 10, 2008. The legislative amendments suspended the holding of competitions
on broadcast licensing until 2010. According to the report authors, “these amendments
make it impossible to create new – and difficult to develop the existing – independent
radio and television channels”, contradict the judgment of the European Court
of Human Rights of June 17, 2008 on the case of “A1+” TV company, as well as
the PACE Resolution 1620 (2008) passed on June 25, 2008, calling the authorities
of Armenia to “ensure an open, fair and transparent licensing procedure”.

In the chapter of the report on Armenia “Impunity for Attacks and Threats against
Journalists Defending Human Rights” it is stressed that “in 2008 the intensification
of media muzzling in Armenia resulted in the development of Internet-based activities
of independent journalists, newspapers and information platforms”. The lack
of monitoring of investigations on cases of attack and the pressure exerted
on journalists “put those who, amongst others, denounced corruption, in a particularly
delicate position”, find the report authors. This assertion is illustrated by
the assault of November 17, 2008 on Edik Baghdasarian, Head of “Investigative
Journalists” NGO, Chief Editor of online publication “Hetq”. Edik Baghdasarian
“seeks to defend the independence of the investigative press and condemns corruption
in Government circles”, the report notes.