On 24 July, the RA Prosecutor General’s Office disseminated a statement announcing the decision of its regional office to drop the criminal charge against Kristine Khanumyan, editor-in-chief of www.ilur.am. The criminal case was initiated on 2 June 2015 by the Investigative Committee under Article 353 (Par.2) on failure to comply with a court order intentionally.
“During the trial we put forward arguments that mass media organizations have the right not to disclose their source of information and referred to the relevant decisions by the European Court of Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The courts, though, were resolute and overturned our arguments. The Constitutional Court now refers to these same decisions, factually pointing out the problem is connected with the enactment of the law,” said Artak Zeynalyan.
Disclosing sources of information, Zeynalyan said, is required to prevent serious crimes or harm, or ensure a person charged with a particularly serious crime is defended at the court. “The arguments we brought at the court can no longer be overturned since the Constitutional Court upholds our arguments,” said Zeynalyan.
“Now enforcement agencies have to act in line with the latest ruling, and there won’t be such conflicts between the judicial system and mass media,” said Ashot Melikyan, Head of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, “We, however, do not have any guarantee that regardless of the Constitutional Court’s ruling prosecutors, investigators or judges won’t try to bypass it.”
Armine Ohanyan, Editor-in-Chief at the Hraparak Daily, believes the ruling may lead to two – negative and positive – conclusions. “The negative one is that the three-level judicial system in the country does not efficiently serve the law…Those judges must be ashamed of looking into people’s eyes and they must resign. And on the other hand, I consider this media’s victory. Despite the possible pressure on journalists the truth wins,” Ohanyan said.
The offended party has already applied to ECHR and are now preparing for the upcoming hearings