[…] The most prominent example of such unacceptable coverage was shown by the First Channel of the Public Television of Armenia that not only neglected the clause of the Decree, but also once again broke Article 28 of the RA Law “On Television and Radio”: “The prevalence of a political stance (…) in the programs broadcast by public TV (…) is prohibited.” […]
It was expected that the amendment to the Decree on emergency rule will be directed at providing greater freedom in reporting the current developments. Yet with its enforcement on March 14 none of the problems listed above was solved. Moreover, the amendment contains definitions, allowing arbitrary interpretation, in particular, a ban on “(…) publishing or disseminating deliberately false or destabilizing information on state and inner political issues”. Under the conditions of selective law enforcement and illegal actions that the media sphere has encountered lately, this makes the media quite vulnerable.
In this regard we demand that:
- the National Commission on Television and Radio and the Council of Public TV and Radio Company be held accountable for the unacceptable situation in broadcast media;
- the circumstances of illegal censorship, of blocking web-sites be investigated and the implementers and commissioners of these illegal actions be held accountable;
- the subclause 4 of clause 4 of the RA President’s Decree on the state of emergency be reviewed immediately.
At the same time, realizing that the bodies mentioned in this statement as responsible for the existing situation and the grave violations of the rule of law acted within the overall context of the policy of the Armenian authorities, we emphasize not so much the harsh punishment, but rather the legal record of the violations and those responsible for them. The supremacy of law and the legal precedent are particularly important to exclude any future violations of the free expression.
Yerevan Press Club
Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression
Media Diversity Institute-Armenia
Internews Media Support NGO
“Asparez” Journalist’s Club
Vanadzor Press Club
Helsinki Citizens Assembly Vanadzor Office
Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center
March 14, 2008
*via The Armenian Observer Blog
photo - via RFE/RL