YPC Weekly Newsletter

2009


RA NATIONAL ASSEMBLY DEFINED THE NEW ORDER OF JOURNALISTS ACCREDITATION

On August 21 a new Order of Journalists’ Accreditation in RA National Assembly
was defined by the Decree of Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamian. A number of
provisions of the Order cannot but raise concern. Likewise, Points 10 and 11
of the Order set forth the conditions of media accreditation, including the
print media circulation, level of attendance of online publications and the
frequency of their update, existence of regional and foreign TV companies reporting
missions in Yerevan, etc. Even though such requirements do not contradict the
Law “On Mass Communication”, at the same time they considerably hinder the coverage
of the parliament activities and are groundless from the aspect of efficient
journalistic work. Point 21 of the Order, stipulating the access of journalists
by accreditation identities only during sessions of the National Assembly and
the Standing Commissions, briefings, press conferences, parliament hearings,
as well as other events announced by the NA press service, does not contradict
the letter of law either. Nevertheless, the parliament is a permanent legislative
body, functioning at the expense of state budget, hence, such a provision basically
converges the possibility to cover the activities of deputies.

Some conditions of anticipatory suspension of the accreditation also raise
concern. In particular, the deprivation of accreditation if the journalist “has
diffused untrue information about the National Assembly or the activities of
the staff, affirmed by a court decision” (Subpoint “c” of Point 18) seems to
be an excessive and groundless punishment. Notably this concerns the deprivation
of the right of accrediting the media outlet whose representative has violated
the aforesaid Subpoint. Point 23 of the Order on the responsibilities of journalists
is also inappropriate. Specifically, this refers to provisions, binding the
journalists “to respect the legal interests, the honor and dignity of the deputies
and the National Assembly staff members” during the accomplishment of their
professional activities (Subpoint “a”), and not to impede the realization of
official duties of the deputies, staff members and other persons present at
the sessions (Subpoint “b”). The rights and the interests of the abovementioned
persons, listed in Point 23, are already protected by the national legislation.
Thus, the content of accreditation order has to be limited, in general, by the
description of technical procedures and specific work conditions.