The speakers of the discussion were Ara Ghazaryan, Lawyer, Haykuhi Harutyunyan, Head of “Protection of Rights without Borders” NGO, Melik Baghdasaryan, Director of “Photolur” Agency, Hrachya Palyan, Head of the Criminal Justice and Military Personnel Rights Protection Department of Human Rights Defender of Armenia, Tehmine Yenokyan, Journalist.
Ara Ghazaryan spoke about the cases of violence against journalists and the hindrance to their professional activities.
“If we talk about Electric Yerevan, of course, criminal cases have been instigated, an investigation is underway. However, two years have passed. Two years is longer than a reasonable timeframe, and it can be said that the investigation is not effective. These are cases that took place publicly with the involvement of journalists. It means that these cases have been fixed. They are seemingly offenses and should be disclosed quickly,” Ara Ghazaryan said.
He adds that there were more than 20 cases in two years, 4 judicial acts that were fined and 15-17 criminal cases in the preliminary investigation and during that time 1-2 investigative actions, with a victim's interrogation, it is not enough.
Referring to the practice of investigating journalists' cases in the ECHR, Ghazaryan mentiones that a systematic approach is needed, as it is difficult to expect any result sending just 1-2 cases to the ECHR. According to him, several dozens of cases should be sent to make it clear that the problem is systematic.
In the two cases, Tehmine Yenokyan, a journalist involved in the case of December 2 and "Electricity Yerevan", notes from her own experience that the Special Investigative Body just prolongs the time.
“We have applied to the European Court with the case of Electric Yerevan and we are trying to prove that the administrative body, the Special Investigative Service, carries out time-consuming activities and has no effect in its actions,” Yenokyan said.
The journalist is also surprised to find that the administrative court appoints court sessions very late. “The Administrative Court has acquired a practice that invites a court session every 4 months. We had only 3 sessions in the year, and while comparing with other court sessions, I can say that sessions are appointed once a month.”
Hrachya Palyan mentioned that all the cases of hindering journalists' legitimate professional activities are in the focus of attention of the RA Human Rights Defender.
“The Human Rights Defender has made statements for many times that condemns any act of hindering the activity of journalists and violence against journalists. Within the framework of our authority, we have our own initiated procedures about the July events. Within the scope of our authority, we summarize the data and present to the law enforcement agencies, of course, being consistent in obtaining information on the process or results,” Hrachya Palyan said.
Haykuhi Harutyunyan, speaking about journalists' security and hindering professional activity in the recent years, mentioned that,
unfortunately, Armenia has gained quite a lot in recent years and the reason is that the human rights activist is encouraging the atmosphere of impunity.
“The behavior against the journalist is carried by the state intentionally and purposefully. Over the past two years, we have seen that these manifestations are organized in an organized manner, with the knowledge of the police, if not with the direct involvement of the police and their patronage. In other words, the police has or has received an instruction to target the journalists and, at the same time, destroy the most important evidence of other offenses. To anticipate that the investigation will lead the guilty to the trial as a result of such behavior, it is simply naïve,” Haykuhi Harutyunyan said.
Melik Baghdasaryan finds that journalists' activities are hindered almost every day, as the highest state bodies just do not want to provide information accessibility to journalists.
“Every day we face obstacles. We are accredited every year to cover the activities of the Armenian government or the president but our photojournalists are inactive. The events are covered by their news services. We are just taken as a press tour, we're just going to the place where the president is or should be. The process itself is not covered and filmed,” Melik Baghdasaryan said, adding that the reason for this is not only the desire to keep information away but also the non-professional approach of media services.
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