At November 30 sitting of the NA Standing Committee on State and Legal Affairs moderated by Vladimir Vardanyan, the legislative package on Amending the RA Criminal Code and on Amending the RA Criminal Procedure Code authored by the NA Armenia Faction. It is proposed to recognize invalid Article 137.1 of the Criminal Code. It has been noted that indefinite terms are used in the Article, which do not allow the addressees to comply their behavior with those requirements. According to the main rapporteur Aghvan Vardanyan, the constitutionality of these laws is disputed in the Constitutional Court (CC). To the deputy’s conviction, the amendments made in these laws contradict the provisions of the Constitutional Court and the Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms. Aghvan Vardanyan has added that the legislation has not pursued any goal stipulated by the Constitution, but an attempt is made by another threat to restrict the free speech, the public criticism especially towards the persons holding public and public service post, politicians, illegally restricting the freedom of speech.
The Committee Chair has tried to clarify which are the indefinite terms of the mentioned Article. According to Aghvan Vardanyan, in the terms ‘insult is improper humiliation of other person’s honor and dignity’ there uncertainty and indistinctness, which will not allow to carry out unbiased processes.
In his co-report Vladimir Vardanyan noted that after the well-known events of 9 November 2020, especially on the social network extremely indecent expressions were posted, as they had criminal influence. As the MP assessed, the freedom of speech had never been absolute in any society and in any circumstance. According to him, the problems emerged, when the citizen lost the trust towards the democratic and electoral processes. The Committee Chair proposed to refrain from voting for the draft law.
According to the RA First Deputy Minister of Justice Kristinne Grigoryan, the legal regulations of Article 137.1 of the Criminal Code are not only directed to restricting the freedom of speech, but on the contrary, can create necessary environment for better guarantee and decent realization of the right to freedom of speech. The Deputy Minister detailed the position of the Government on all provisions being proposed. The executive body suggested to leave the articles of the Codes in force unchanged.
In their questions and speeches, the deputies touched upon the provisions of the legislative package, particularly the observations on above-mentioned laws being anti-constitutional. It has been specified that the regulation of Article 137.1 does not relate only to the officials. The representatives of the legislative body agreed that the insult and swearing are unacceptable.
As a result of debates, the legislative proposal was not endorsed.
The draft law on Making Addenda and Amendments to the Law on the RA Citizenship was debated in the second reading. It was endorsed by the Committee.