DRAFT AMENDMENTS TO THE RA CONSTITUTION ADOPTED
On September 28 the RA National Assembly passed the draft amendments to the Constitution of Armenia in the third reading and finally.
As it has been reported, before the discussion of the draft in the third reading Yerevan Press Club made its proposals to the National Assembly on the amendments to the Constitution. The statement of YPC, disseminated on September 15, noted the insufficient involvement of Armenian public in the constitutional reform process and concern was voiced over certain provisions of the draft, particularly, those referring to freedom of expression and information. Since the draft cannot be substantially improved after the second reading, Yerevan Press Club made proposals of editorial nature that would make the appropriate provisions more specific and would contribute to the greater clarity of phrasings (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 9-15, 2005).
The proposals of editorial nature made by YPC were taken into account in the final text of the Constitution.
At the same time, YPC proposed to introduce the greatest clarity possible in the status and the role of body created in the sphere of broadcast media. Namely, it was recommended that Article 83.2 (“To ensure freedom, independence and diversity of broadcast mass media, in accordance with the law, an independent body is established. Half of its members are elected by the National Assembly, and the other half is appointed by the President of the Republic – for 6 years’ term of service. The National Assembly elects the members of this body by a majority of the total number of deputies”) be narrated as follows: “In accordance with the law, a body is established, regulating the activities of public and private broadcast mass media, contributing to their diversity. To ensure the greatest independence of this body, half of its members are elected by the National Assembly and half is appointed by the President of the Republic – for 6 years’ term of service. The National Assembly elects the members of this body by a majority of the total number of deputies.”
In the text of the Constitution adopted in the third reading Article 83.2 did not undergo significant changes, but for one clarification: the body mentioned in it is now specified on only as “independent”, but also as “regulatory”. Thus, the Article is presently narrated as follows: “To ensure freedom, independence and diversity of broadcast mass media, in accordance with the law, an independent regulatory body is established. Half of its members are elected, for 6 years’ term of service, by the National Assembly, half is appointed by the President of the Republic – for 6 years’ term of service. The National Assembly elects the members of this body by a majority of the total number of deputies.” In other words, the purpose of establishing a regulatory body and its status remain vaguely defined in the Main Law.
ENP, MCA AND MDG IN ARMENIAN MEDIA
On September 23-25 in Tsaghkadzor a seminar “Coverage of International Programs in Armenian Media” was held. The event was organized by Yerevan Press Club with the assistance of Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The event brought together representatives of media, NGOs, also journalistic associations, state structures of Armenia and international missions accredited in the country.
The prospects of the program of the EU European Neighborhood Policy in Armenia were presented to the seminar participants by the Head of Department on Cooperation with World Trade Organization and EU of the RA Ministry of Trade and Economic Development Vahagn Ghazarian and the Head of the EU Department of the RA Foreign Ministry Armen Liloyan. The Chairman of “European Integration” NGO Karen Bekarian told about the impact of the program on democratic reforms in the country and its coverage in media.
The start of implementation of another major program in Armenia, the Millennium Challenge Account, funded by US Government, was the subject of the presentation by Deputy Head of Armenian group of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Hovhannes Azizian. The necessity of ensuring the transparency of this program was highlighted by the head of the Center for Regional Development/Armenian branch of “Transparency International” Amalia Kostanian.
Another project, also implemented in many countries of the world, including Armenia, the UN Millennium Development Goals was presented by the economist of UNDP Armenian Office Aghasi Mkrtchian.
The producer of Internews Armenia NGO Armen Sargsian told about how Armenian media cover these issued and the subjects of public importance in general.
HEARINGS ON THE SUIT VERSUS “ARABOT” DELAYED
On September 23 at the court of primary jurisdiction of Center and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan the hearings on the suit of the former assistant of Electrical Energy Chair of State Engineering (Polytechnic) University Karen Khachatrian versus “Aravot” daily started and were postponed. The plaintiff demanded that the daily publish the refutation text prepared by him to the article “Sexual Harassment of a Student”, published in “Aravot” on June 24, 2005. The piece was based on the complaint of a group of students and professors of the Engineering University about the behavior of Karen Khachatrian and his father Varos Khachatrian, a professor of the same Chair, addressed to the RA Human Rights Defender.
The consideration of the suit of Karen Khachatrian versus “Aravot” was postponed since presently criminal proceedings are underway on the appeal of the father of a female student of the Engineering University. The court has no competence to consider the civil suit, filed by Karen Khachatrian, until the investigation is over.
As it has been reported, a similar suit with the same claim was filed by Karen Kachatrian versus “Chorrord Ishkhanutiun” newspaper. The court hearings again were delayed due to the same reason (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 9-15, 2005).
Meanwhile, it became known that Karen Khachatrian is no longer employed by the Engineering University. As “Aravot” daily reported on September 24 with a reference to the Rector of the Engineering University Yuri Sargsian, considering the big amount of complaints from students, the administration did not find reasons to sign a contract with Karen Khachatrian.