On May 13, the National Assembly of Armenia passed in the first reading the draft law on amendments to the RA Civil Code, establishing the institute of compensation for moral damage.
The draft law suggests amending the Civil Code with a new article introducing the concept of moral damage and further imposition of financial compensation in case of such damage.
As we have reported, the draft law, presented to the parliament by the RA Government, noted the absence of legal protection mechanism against moral damage in the current legislation of the country. At the same time, the existence of such mechanism is necessary in cases of violation of several articles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ratified by Armenia, as well as for the proper execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. Media experts, in turn, have repeatedly stressed the urgent need for legislative regulation of the issue on compensation of moral damage caused by libel or insult, as this problem often occurs in trials on defamation in the media (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, May 5-11, 2014).
The Special Investigation Service of Armenia started investigation of the criminal case against the policemen who used excessive force against Argishti Kivirian, the coordinator of ARMENIA Today news agency, during the civic activists’ action on August 1, 2013.
Argishti Kivirian was detained and taken to a police station during a protest against the rise in public transport fares, held near Yerevan city hall (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 25-30, 2014). During the detention police used excessive force against the journalist and kept him at the police station for more than three hours. Argishti Kivirian addressed the Special Investigation Service (SIS) demanding institution of criminal proceedings against the police officers. After Kivirian’s appeal was rejected by SIS, he thereafter challenged the decision of the SIS in court. Kivirian presented video and photo materials as evidence of unauthorized actions of the police. The Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan secured the appeal. The RA Prosecutor’s Office, in turn, disputed the decision of the Court of General Jurisdiction at the RA Criminal Court of Appeal, which on March 26 upheld the ruling of general jurisdiction court. Thus, the SIS was obliged to launch an investigation into the lawfulness of the police action against the journalist.
According to the information posted on May 12 on the SIS website, the case has been initiated under Article 309 Clause 2 of the RA Criminal Code (“Abuse of power, accompanied by violence, use of weapons or special means”).
Ani Gevorgian, correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” newspaper, claims that the Special Investigation Service of Armenia is not interested in proper investigation of the criminal case with regard to impeding her professional activities by the law enforcement bodies.
As we have reported, on February 12, Ani Gevorgian and Sargis Gevorgian, cameraman of iLur.am were covering a public campaign of the Armenian National Congress in downtown Yerevan (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 4-10, 2014). They were arrested and taken to police station where they were held for about four hours. Police officers seized journalists’ cameras and mistreated them. In particular, the chief of Kentron Police Department slapped Ani Gevorgian on the face. The journalist turned to Special Investigation Service (SIS) to report the crime. The statement reported three episodes: the attempt by policeman Vardan Gevorgian to forcibly take away the camera from Ani Gevorgian during the public action; the seizure of the memory card from her video camera at the police department by a woman who presented herself as Sona Melikian, legal counselor; the actions of Artak Poghosian, the head of the Kentron Police Department, who had slapped the journalist on face and seized her phone.
On the grounds of Ani Gevorgian’s statement, on February 25, SIS instigated criminal proceedings under Clause 2 of Article 164 (“Impending the legitimate professional activities of a journalist by an abuse of power on part of a state official”) and by Clause 2 of Article 309 (“Abuse of power, accompanied by violence, use of weapons or special means”) of the RA Criminal Code.
Speaking to YPC the journalist noted that after the criminal case had been initiated she was invited to the investigative body only twice: to give testimony and to provide video footage for expertise. As Ani Gevorgian stressed, her complaint on the crime indicated specific names and the photo, video materials published in media are prove to the abusive actions of the policeman who tried to seize her video camera.
According to the journalist, SIS is idle: over the past two and a half months it still has not recognized her as a victim and she is still regarded as a witness. In addition, she was not informed about the results of the expertise.
In an interview to Hetq.am Ani Gevorgian said that the incident of February 12 could be solved in a matter of minutes, as all the necessary evidence was provided. The journalist believes that the way the investigation being held can be called a criminal inaction.
“There is little I can expect from the preliminary investigation when the investigator, for example, does not simply attach video footage to the case as evidence, but obliges me to submit videos made by other media”, the correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” said.
Residents of the town of Vardenis of Gegharkunik region of Armenia, are no longer able to watch the programs of the Second Armenian TV Channel.
According to “Zhoghovurd” daily, “Television and Radio Broadcasting Network of Armenia” CJSC revised the list of locations where the programs of the Second Armenian TV Channel are broadcasted, at the request of the TV company. Now, this list covers only regional and tourist centers of the country. Therefore, “Zhoghovurd” stressed that “the ‘selection’ criteria of the TV company are questionable”.
In an interview to YPC, the Second Armenian TV Channel explained that the contraction of broadcasting area was caused exclusively by technical reasons. At the same time, as the TV company stressed, even after the contraction, their broadcasting covers nearly the same area as other national TV channels. The TV company also assured that problems with transmission in mountainous areas or problematic terrain will disappear after the switch to digital broadcasting.