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Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Armenian government defeated by A1+. Freedom of expression wins!

Congratulations to A1+ TV company, its journalists, anyone who cares about media freedom in Armenia, and anyone who wants to see Armenia a better place to live.

This decision does not mean that A1+ will have to get back on the air, i.e. it does not oblige government to do so. However, it is extremely important in terms of wording of the European Court of Human Rights decision, which states:

The Court held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the Armenian authorities’ refusal to grant the applicants’ requests for broadcasting licences.

From now on, the legality of depriving A1+ its broadcasting rights is no longer there, on a formal, European level. Of course, Armenian authorities may wish to downplay it, limiting their liabilities to paying 30 000 euro to A1+ for damages and expenses (as stated in a Court decision). But they can no longer ignore it.

From now on, this issue will always be on the 'moving towards Europe' agenda which Armenian government is so keen to show it is devoted for, on the level of words, at least.

Full summary of the European Court of Human Rights decision is available here

4 comments:

Myrthe said...

The court didn't order the government to put A1+ back in the air, because it cannot order that. By its statutes or mandate or whatever you'd call it, the ECHR can only award financial compensation to the "winning" side. It can't order a government to take some other action. So in fact, the ECHR did as much as it is allowed to do.

Anonymous said...

Europeans sucks like no one else.
Now the government know that for a symbolic sum of 30.000 Euros they can ban any channel they dont like.

artmika said...

PACE demands from the Armenian authorities to grant a broadcasting licence to A1+ TV station without further delay

artmika said...

Closed TV Gets Government Payout

Acting on a recent verdict by the European Court of Human Rights, the Armenian government approved on Thursday payment of 30,000 euros ($39,000) in damages to an independent television station that was controversially pulled off the air in 2002. [...]

“I can not consider the compensation ordered by the European court to be full because the losses that we have incurred during all these years have been much greater,” Mesrop Movsesian, the A1+ owner and chief executive, told RFE/RL.

“But I wouldn’t want to accentuate on the financial aspect of the matter because the restoration of my rights in the Republic of Armenia is more important to me,” said Movsesian. He said A1+, which has remained afloat by publishing an online journal and producing programs for regional broadcasters, still hopes to return to the airwaves.

These hopes were dealt a serious blow in September when the Armenian parliament approved government-drafted legal amendments that froze the holding of fresh tenders for frequencies until July 2010. The government claimed that the measure is necessary for expediting Armenia’s planned transition to mandatory digital broadcasting by 2012.

But government critics believe its real purpose is to fend off renewed Western pressure for the reopening of A1+. In a June resolution, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) urged Armenia to "ensure an open, fair and transparent licensing procedure" and allow A1+ to apply for a new license.