YPC Weekly Newsletter

2001


"ASPAREZ" CONFIRMED ITS RIGHT TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS

On December 3, at the court of primary jurisdiction of Center and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan the proceedings on the suit on the rehabilitation and protection of the rights of citizens and journalists to information were continued. As it has already been  reported, the suit had been filed by the Chairman of the Board of “Asparez” Journalists’ Club Levon Barseghian and the Correspondent of “Iravunk” newspaper in the Shirak region Gagik Nikoghosian and introduced two demands to the City Examination Commission on Admissions to the State Higher Education Institutions of Gyumri: to annul the decision of the Admissions Commission prohibiting the presence of journalists in the examination room during the last hour of the written exams; require the Commission to open to the journalists the minutes, which do not contain state or service secrets (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 29 – October 5, 2001).

During the previous session Susanna Mkhitarian who represented the respondent, the Ministry of Education and Science, requested the necessary documents, confirming the competence of the legal entity of “Asparez” Journalists’ Club as a plaintiff. During the session of December 3, the head of “Asparez” Levon Barseghian submitted the corresponding documents to the court, among them being the statutes, stipulating the protection of the rights of journalists as a part of the mission of this non-governmental organization. Further the representative of the respondent Susanna Mkhitarian continued asking questions to the plaintiff. As YPC was told by Levon Barseghian, the co-plaintiffs rejected the proposal of the respondent’s representative to open the minutes of the sessions held by the Admissions Commission and settle the dispute in this way. "Some people may think our decision strange – why should we persist in a case which is in the past already? Yet, our primary objective is not only to protect the professional dignity of journalists, but also to create a precedent: for the officials, in future, to stop and think what information closing may lead to before doing so. Moreover, according to Susanna Mkhitarian, the documents at the disposal of the Ministry of Education and Science, passed by the Admissions Commission, stipulate prohibition of video shooting in the exam room an hour before the written examinations are over, and nothing is said about the disallowing journalists’ entrance. This may mean that we are dealing with a fraudulence on behalf of the Admissions Commission, and I voiced this concern in court”, Levon Barseghian mentioned.

At the next session of December 13 the plaintiffs will continue with questioning the representative of the respondent.