YPC Weekly Newsletter

2009


AMENDMENTS TO THE RA CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE ON SECURITY OF INFORMATION SOURCES PASSED IN THE FIRST HEARING

On October 28 RA National Assembly passed the Draft Law “On the Amendments and Supplements to the RA Criminal Procedure Code” in the first hearing. The author of the draft Hovhannes Margarian, RA NA deputy from “Ordinates Yerkir” faction, has initiated two amendments on the security of information sources. Firstly, it is suggested to supplement Paragraph 2 of Article 16 of the Criminal Procedure Code (“The Publicity of Court Litigation”) by the following sentence: “An executive court session can also be assigned, whenever a court decision obliges the person, accomplishing information activities, as well as the journalist to disclose the source of information”. Secondly, it is envisaged to introduce a new provision (Point 6) in Paragraph 2 of Article 86 of the Code (“Witness”). According to this provision, a person, accomplishing information activities, and a journalist cannot be exacted as a witness and examined on the information source, unless, to disclose a grave or specially grave crime, there is court decision, and the necessity of the criminal protection of public interests prevails the public concern on the information source confidentiality, and all the other means to protect the public interests are exhausted.

The justification of the draft mentions that Article 5 of RA Law “On Mass Communication” prescribes a high level of protection of information sources, according to international standards. Meanwhile, it is stressed that as the practice shows the provision of the RA Law “On Mass Communication” contradicts Article 86 of Criminal Procedure Code. In the latter, persons, accomplishing information activities, and journalists are not listed among the ones who cannot be exacted as witnesses and examined to disclose the source of information. “There have already been cases when the preliminary investigation bodies were trying to interrogate the media heads in order to disclose the information source”, the justification notes. Besides, while Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of Law “On Mass Communication” sets forth executive court sessions whenever a person, accomplishing information activities, or a journalist are obliged to disclose the information source, Article 16 of Code does not provide for such a provision and contravenes the Law.

In fact, the amendments are called to harmonize the aforesaid Articles of the Criminal Procedure Code with the requirements of Article 5 of RA Law “On Mass Communication”.