Regarding the draft law limiting the chances of the media to cover the activities of the Government
By decision of the RA National Assembly Speaker the draft of the RA Law “On the Structure and Activities of the Government” was placed on the agenda of the parliamentary extraordinary session convened following the end of the February 27, 2018 regular sessions. The draft law had not undergone thorough public discussion and was harshly criticized by the media and NGOs. The document envisages that the Armenian Government sessions will be held behind closed doors starting from the day the RA President-elect takes office, as well as prohibits ministers from providing information on the discussion of any issue included in the agenda of the sessions without the permission of the Prime Minister. Furthermore, the authors of the draft law attempt to present the adoption of such work style as manifestation of democracy and guarantee for efficient operation.
While everything is the exact opposite. No government working secretly from the public and behind closed doors has ensured democracy and market economy development. Moreover, these conditions have resulted in growing corruption risks and decrease of public trust towards the government. The conduct of closed sessions groundlessly limits the chances of journalists to comprehensively cover the activities of the Government.
In fact, all the arguments voiced by media, as well as during various public discussions over the past month, which point out the regressive nature of closing Government sessions, have been completely ignored. The ruling elite, neglecting the criticism by the civil society, seeks to adopt at any cost the version of the draft law submitted to the National Assembly.
Taking into consideration the above-mentioned we, the undersigned, demand:
– Republican Party of Armenia-ARF Dashnaktsutyun parliamentary coalition to revise points 16 and 17 of Article 10 of the draft law. The RA Government sessions must be held in open procedure (closed sessions can only be allowed in cases regarding state and other secrets), while the public speeches of ministers must not depend on the existence or absence of permission by the Prime Minister;
– The opposition forces of the RA National Assembly to use every possible means to actively struggle against the adoption of the above-mentioned provisions and initiate a revision process;
– International organizations to condition the cooperation with the Armenian authorities and the support provided to them based on transparency in the governance of the country and public accountability, readiness to counter corruption risks, ensuring civil society engagement in the development and implementation of decisions of public significance.
COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER
“ASPAREZ” JOURNALISTS’ CLUB
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE”
“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS”
GORIS PRESS CLUB
The statement is open for signatures