YPC Weekly Newsletter

2013


“ZHOGHOVURD” INTENDS TO SEEK CLARIFICATION ON ISSUE OF PROTECTION FROM NON-PUBLIC INSULT AT CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

On September 5, “Zhoghovurd” daily received a notification from the RA Court of Cassation about the inadmissibility of its complaint against the RA Civil Court of Appeals’ ruling. The latter had confirmed the decision of the court of general jurisdiction, made upon the lawsuit of “Zhoghovurd” founder, “Editorial Office of ‘Zhoghovurd’ Newspaper” LLC, and the daily’s correspondent Sona Grigorian versus businessman Khachik Khachatrian (owner of “X-group” holding, including “Yerevan Poultry” company). The report about this appeared in the September 6 piece of “Zhoghovurd”, “In the Wake of Eggs ‘Zhoghovurd’ Goes to the RA Constitutional Court”.

As we have reported, in December 2012, “Zhoghovurd” went to law when the businessman insulted Sona Grigorian on phone, calling her “a prostitute” in reply to “her question, which was not that desirable for him”. The businessman also suggested that the journalist publish this word (“‘Zhoghovurd’ Daily Demands Public Apologies from Khachik Khachatrian”, December 22, 2012).  The lawsuit with demands of public apologies from Khachik Khachatrian was taken into consideration by the Court of General Jurisdiction of Ajapnyak and Davitashen Administrative Districts of Yerevan on December 28, 2012; the hearings started on April 3, 2013. On April 29, the Court rejected the claim on the grounds that a statement cannot be qualified as insult, unless it is made in public (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, April 26 – May 2, 2013). On May 29, “Zhoghovurd” contested this ruling at the Civil Court of Appeals, which rejected the appeal on July 17. Thus, on August 7 the daily went to the Court of Cassation, which ruled to return the complaint as unfounded.

In its September 6 piece “Zhoghovurd” declared about its intention to appeal the RA Constitutional Court so that “henceforth, it won’t cross the mind of any businessman, oligarch or official to insult a journalist and go unpunished”. It should be noted that the Armenian legislation does not provide for protection of citizens, including journalists, from non-public defamatory statements: Article 1087.1 (“Order and Conditions of Compensation of Damage to the Honor, Dignity or Business Reputation”) of RA Civil Code and the RA Court of Cassation’s April 27, 2012 precedent-setting ruling only stipulates about public statements. The need for legal regulation of the liability for non-public insult was particularly emphasized in the May 21, 2013 opinion of the Information Disputes Council. Despite that the November 15, 2011 decision of the RA Constitutional Court suggested that the RA National Assembly consider this issue, the legal regulation of non-public insult is still pending. The IDC called the parliament to implement the abovementioned decision of the Constitutional Court and solve the issue within its legal authority. Moreover, the IDC found it reasonable to appeal the Constitutional Court, questioning the constitutionality of Paragraph 2.1, Article 1087.1 of the RA Civil Code, since this provision does not envisage any means for protecting individuals from non-public defamatory statements (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, May 17-23, 2013).