On August 30, initiated by the Committee Chair of the RA NA Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs Taguhi Tovmasyan, a working discussion was held with the participation of accredited mass media representatives, heads of mass media and journalistic organizations in the National Assembly, where the NA deputies also participated.
The aim of the working meeting was to raise the disputable provisions of the decision of the NA Council (DCNA-001-L of August 18, 2021) on Making Amendments and Addenda to the Appendix approved by the decision on Approving the Order of Journalists’ Accreditation in the RA National Assembly of the Council of the RA National Assembly of December 27, 2017.
The Committee Chair Taguhi Tovmasyan noted that he initiated today’s meeting taking into account her public promise – in case of being elected in the post for the Committee Chair, the issue of the accredited journalists’ move in the National Assembly would be one of the first steps. According to her, by virtue of tradition, journalists should freely move in the parliament and carry out their professional activities.
As Taguhi Tovmasyan evaluated, it is necessary to discuss and understand the risks of the journalists’ move and the threshold of danger. The Committee Chair has underlined that the aim of the meeting is also to listen to the journalists, as the decisions related to the journalists have been made without listening to the journalistic community. In her opinion, the decision of the NA Council contradicts the provisions of the Law on Mass Media.
The Director of Asparez Journalists’ Club Levon Barseghyan has expressed an opinion that the restriction of journalists’ activities should be with reasonable justification, and no restriction can be arbitrary even in case, when it is regulated by laws or normative acts. “Otherwise, they will be qualified as violence against freedom of speech and expression,” Levon Barseghyan said.
The Chair of the Union of Journalists of Armenia Satik Seyranyan called on media representatives to unite and work together. According to her, the current order of accreditation was quite efficient.
The President of the Freedom of Information Center of Armenia Shushan Doydoyan presented some proposals referred to the journalists’ activities in the parliament. According to her, accredited journalists’ move cannot be restricted in the parliament, however in exceptional cases, there are problems related to the unethical behaviour of journalists. Taking into account this problem, the latter proposes to set a requirement of at least two years of professional work experience for the accreditation of a journalist in the RA National Assembly, to accredit only the journalists of the media who have adopted a code of professional behaviour.
The representatives of mass media have voiced the provisions of the decision of the NA Council that hinder their activities, which, in their estimation, is not appropriate for a democratic country. It was referred to the legality of the decision of the NA Council. The presentation of clear proposals by the journalists to the NA leadership was highlighted. It was proposed to carry out protest actions, meet with the RA Human Rights Defender and start legal processes. The issue of addressing human rights activists and international organizations was discussed.
Summarizing the working discussion, Taguhi Tovmasyan has underlined that all restrictions of the journalists’ move should be canceled. According to the Committee Chair, this meeting was also a voice of protest. It has been stated that a summary protocol will be drawn up related to the voiced requirements and proposals.