On October 7, the RA Prosecutor’s Office informed that the Prosecutor General Gevorg Kostanian canceled the decision of the RA Special Investigation Service (SIS), which had previously refused to initiate a criminal case for impeding the work of Marineh Khachatrian, correspondent of “A1+” TV company, on part of Karen Hayrapetian, Chief of Security Service of the RA National Assembly.
As we have reported, the incident occurred on September 9, at the main entrance of the National Assembly, where the “Counterblow” Art Group held an action. After noticing the “A1+” correspondent filming the scene, Karen Hayrapetian approached the journalist and hit her on the arm, knocking down her tablet. There were numerous witnesses to the incident, including journalists of Hetq.am (online periodical of “Investigative Journalists” NGO). The very same day, Hetq.am published photo and video footage of the incident. Upon the request of the Prosecutor’s Office all media coverage of the incident were forwarded to the SIS. On September 22, SIS refused to open a case.
As “A1+” reported on September 29 , Daniel Ioannisian, head of “Union of Informed Citizens” NGO, filed a complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office about SIS decision.
The October 7 press release reads that the Prosecutor General, having considered the statement of the NGO head and the materials published by Hetq.am, has ordered to initiate a criminal case under Clause 1 of Article 164 of RA Criminal Code (“Obstruction of legitimate professional activities of journalist”).
The preliminary investigation is entrusted to the same Special Investigation Service.
Notably, on September 29, seven Armenian media NGOs condemned the decision of the SIS on the cases related to impeding professional activities of journalists. “In fact, a vicious tradition is being set: after receiving reports on obstruction of journalists’ activities or usage of violence against them, the RA Prosecutor’s Office requests the SIS to investigate the incidents, but the latter glosses over the cases with a standard explanation ‘absence of corpus delicti’. And this happens even in the cases where the facts of violence and impeding had been filmed and published on the Internet and in numerous media outlets”, the statement stressed.
The journalistic organizations demanded the SIS administration to take measures to review the decisions and to hold responsible the investigators that did not show impartiality and professionalism. The media NGOs also called on the RA Prosecutor’s Office to exercise pertinent supervision over the activities of the SIS and to ensure a thorough investigation of each case of violence and impeding the professional activities of journalists.
On September 30, Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, called on the Armenian authorities to end the climate of impunity and to bring to justice those responsible for attacks on journalists.