On May 19-20 in Yerevan the seminar “Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Media Disputes in Judicial Practice of Armenia” was completed. The Seminar was organized by Yerevan Press Club, the Council of Europe, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with partner contribution from “Femida” NGO. In his opening speech the RA Minister of Justice David Haroutiunian emphasized the necessity for such meetings between the representatives of judicial branch and media.
The European standards on relations between media and the justice were introduced to the participants by Pall Thorhallsson, the Administrative Officer of the Media Division of General Directorate II of the Council of Europe. The presentation of Henrik Danielian, the Chairman of the RA Court of Cassation was devoted to the necessity for legislative changes in Armenia after its membership in the CE. The speaker mostly lingered on the need for amendments in the RA Constitution. Thus, as the Chairman of the Court of Cassation mentioned, the Constitution declares the fundamental rights and freedoms for the citizens of Armenia only. Meanwhile, to ensure conformity with international norms, including Article 10 of the European Convention, these principles must be fixed for any individual, irrespectively from his/her citizenship. As to the media, Mr. Danielian finds that the journalists must have increased responsibility, since the power and the influence of the word on the society are great. The YPC Expert Mesrop Harutyunyan introduced the situation of the freedom of speech and media in Armenia. The presentation of the Member of the RA Justice Council Robert Avagian referred to the coverage of judicial issues by Armenian media and was built on the quotes from the newspaper publications on the case of the terrorist attack in the Armenian Parliament on October 27, 1999.
The participants were particularly interested in the presentation of the Seminar expert Erno Melssen, the Vice President of the Regional Court of Zwolle, the Netherlands. His narration on how the Europe and, in particular, Holland balance the freedom of media and the right to a fair trial, how the access to information and public hearings is granted, how the legislation has stipulated the right for journalists to protect their sources caused wistful admiration among the journalistic community.
Two court cases have also been studied at the Seminar: from the practice of the European Court on Human Rights and the Court of Cassation of Armenia.