YPC Weekly Newsletter

2011


“HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH”: AMENDMENTS TO BROADCAST LAW BECAME A BARRIER FOR TV COMPANIES

On January 24 the international "Human Rights Watch" organization released its annual report on human rights practices in over 90 countries of the world in 2010.

In the report section, dealing with Armenia, the situation with media freedom is presented. The amendments to RA Law “On Television and Radio”, adopted on June 10, 2010, reduced the number of available television stations, "Human Rights Watch" noted in particular. Besides, the amendments’ provision as to existing broadcasters or those with at least three year experience receive preference in future licensing competitions, creates a barrier for new broadcasters. “During a July 4-5 visit to Yerevan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met President Serzh Sargsian, and separately with civil society leaders. Secretary Clinton discussed the US government’s concerns that recent changes to the Law “On Television and Radio” could hinder freedom of expression,” "Human Rights Watch" report stressed.

The “Media Freedom” section also tells about “GALA” TV company of Gyumri, which reported in March 2010 that advertisers withdrew business under pressure from local officials. “Since 2007 “GALA” has been subject to apparently politically motivated court cases and harassment by state agencies, seemingly in retaliation for the station’s regular coverage of opposition party activities”, "Human Rights Watch" considered. Independent TV channel “A1+” remained off the air for an eight year, despite a June 2008 judgment of European Court of Human Rights that “Armenia had violated freedom of expression due to repeatedly arbitrarily denying the station a broadcast license”, reaffirmed "Human Rights Watch".

Among other cases the “Lack of Accountability for Excessive Use of Force” section listed the incident of November 2010 with Nikol Pashinian, one of the opposition leaders, Chief Editor of “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily. The latter was sentenced for mass riots of March 1, 2008 in Yerevan: “Pashinian claimed two masked men attacked and beat him in Kosh prison; the government denied the allegation.”

Another incident regarding an Armenian media representative was highlighted in “Freedom of Assembly” section: the detention of “Haykakan Zhamanak” correspondent Ani Gevorgian during an opposition rally on May 31, 2010 in Yerevan. “Amid local media outrage, police did not press charges against Ani Gevorgyan”, the "Human Rights Watch" mentioned.