On December 18, at the court of primary jurisdiction of Center and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan hearings on the suit of the Association of Investigative Journalists of Armenia versus the Head of the State Customs Committee at the RA Government Armen Avetisian were held.
On October 9, 2001, the Association of Investigative Journalists addressed the Head of the Customs Committee with a written request to provide journalists Edik Baghdasarian (the President of the Association) and Gayaneh Mukoyan (a member of the Association) information, needed for an investigation on the exploitation of non-metallic mines. The journalists were interested to know, in particular, which organizations, engaged in the exploitation of non-metallic mines, export their production to other countries, what the exports volume of this production is and how much has been paid as customs duties starting from 1997 till today. The reply to the journalists, signed by the Deputy Head of Customs Committee, contained a refusal of providing the information, with a referral to the stipulations of the RA Customs Code on the non-disclosure of official secrets.
Proceeding from the fact that a number of articles of national and international legislation were violated by this and that the information requested is no secret, the Association of Investigative Journalists filed a suit on November 6, soliciting the Head of the Customs Committee Armen Avetisian to answer the questions posed by the journalists in ten days’ time.
At the session held the judge at chair Vazgen Lalayan rejected the suit. Legally, the justification for the rejection must be provided within seven days. "Our further steps depend on what the document will say," Edik Baghdasarian, the President of the Association, stressed.
Notably, at this very time at this very court authority and at the chairmanship of this very judge Vazgen Lalayan, a trial on a similar suit protecting the right of journalists to information is being held. The plaintiff for this second case is another professional association – “Asparez” Journalists’ Club (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, December 1-7, 2001).