On May 11 Council on Information Disputes released another conclusion 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 Council noted that the attorney of the Armenian Word of Life Religious Community of Christian Evangelic Church has applied to it, requesting to provide an expert opinion on the lawsuit filed by the religious organization and its Head, Senior Pastor Artur Simonian versus “Iravunk Media” LLC, founder of “Iravunk-Investigation” and “Argumenti Nedeli v Armenii” weeklies. As it has been reported, the matter of the suit became the articles and collages, published in October 2011 in the weeklies. The pieces spoke negatively about the Word of Life and the Senior Pastor. The plaintiffs demanded to bind the respondent to publish a refutation and to bring apologies in both newspapers. The hearings on the case started on March 13, 2012 at the court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan, and as of today are in the preliminary stage (see YPC Weekly Newsletter March 9-15, 2012).
According to the Council, a number of the disputed judgments do not have factual data. In this regard, they cannot be assessed as a fair comment. Moreover, the general context of the articles and the continuous and persistent use of the word “sect” therein gives features of religious intolerance to the pieces.
The Council finds that the facts of the case utterly provide with an opportunity to resolve the case through extra-judiciary means and calls on the parties to use this opportunity.
The full conclusion of the Information Disputes Council is available in Armenian at http://www.ypc.am/expert/ln/eng.