On October 28 Council on Information Disputes released its fifth judgment on a defamation case. The missions of the Council, established on May 1, 2011, list preparation and release of advisory expert conclusions on court litigations regarding libel and insult, protection of private life and freedom of information, as well as providing consultations to the Armenian legislative and executive authorities, local self-government bodies and citizens (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, April 29 – May 5, 2011).
The fifth expert judgment of the Council regards the suit of the Director of the Armenia National Art Gallery Paravon (Pharaoh) Mirzoyan versus the founder of “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” daily, “Trespassers W.” LLC, and artist Sergey Gasparian. The reason for the suit became the article “To Know Pharaoh”, published in “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” on April 9, 2011. The piece contained unpleasant expressions by Sergey Gasparian, critically assessing the Head of the National Art Gallery Paravon Mirzoyan. The plaintiff demanded to refute the information discrediting his reputation, compensate the moral damage made to his honor and dignity of 3 million AMD (about $ 7,900), as well as the pay off the court expenses of 360,000 AMD (about $ 950). On June 26, 2011 the case was taken into consideration by the court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan.
According to the Council, some of the contested expressions in the piece are value judgments, the opinion of the journalist reflected in a satiric style. This is in line with the spirit of Article 10 of the European Convention, which protects not only the right to freedom of information but also the form and the means of its presentation. The remaining disputed expressions do not lack factual bases, notes the judgment. At the same time, the Council states that the expressions, qualified as defamatory by the plaintiff, had been published in another media, and “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” presented them with a reference to the original source.
The Council on Information Disputes concludes that the conflict is rather an ethical matter than a legal one, therefore it should be set out of court, particularly through the Media Ethics Observatory.
On November 2 the founder of “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” addressed the Media Ethics Observatory for receiving an expert judgment on the judicially disputed article. As it has been reported, MEO was formed on March 10, 2007 by the heads of Armenian media who supported the YPC self-regulation initiative (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 9-15, 2007). The mission of the MEO consists in the consideration of complaints and appeals regarding the violations of the Code of Conduct of Media Representatives and making judgments on these.