This year Armenia celebrates World Press Freedom Day not in very favorable conditions for press. There are more than ten court cases against different media outlets. Besides, according to the recently published international reports, situation with the press in Armenia raises concerns.
On May 1st organization "Reporters without borders" stressed out that in Armenia legal persecutions against journalists still continue. "Disproportionate compensations" claimed by plaintiffs threaten the existence of the newspapers", reads the statement.
Yesterday international human rights Freedom House organization released the annual report on the state of press in 196 countries around the world. According to the report, Armenia continues to be among the countries with non free status.
While the international institutions evaluate the state of press in Armenia, local media structures discuss existing problems, find those who are guilty and look for solutions.
On May 1st several media representatives expressed their discontent with the establishment of the Council on Information Arguments initiated by the RA Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman). "It is enough to create absurd structures, create new judicial bodies against us, establish ministry of press", said chief editor of "Hraparak" daily Armine Ohanyan. Responsible editor of "Haykakan Jamanak" (Armenian Times) daily Hayk Gevorgyan said that powers of the council are not defined by the Constitution or other legislation and are very discretionary, so their opinion regarding the effectiveness of this structure is negative and "Haykakan Jamanak" is not going to rely on the support of the council.
Director of the project "Armmedia" Manana Aslamasyan is concerned not only with the court cases against media but also with the non professional work of media. "Firstly it is necessary to train judges for these cases and there is non professionalism within media as well." If the council provides with independent and well founded conclusions, the most dependant court and non professional media will take into consideration these conclusions as a healthy idea."
President of the Committee for Protection of the Freedom of Speech Ashot Meliqyan thinks that there are more regressive tendencies in Armenian media in recent years. Ashot Meliqyan also speaks about the intolerance of the political leaders towards the critique in press. "It is a saint obligation of the press to critique, it is the international standard. However it should be done highly professional and with the great sense of responsibility"
Head of the Investigative Journalists NGO Edik Baghdasaryan calls upon each journalist to win the frontier of own freedom. "I am surprised that you do not rebel against your editors, directors of your TV companies. You should win this freedom from below. No one will give you the freedom. Authorities everywhere inherently pressure freedom of speech. We should struggle; we should win the freedom of speech". The prize "Time of Press Freedom" was awarded to Edik Baghdasaryan this year for development of the investigative journalism, for independent position and professional courage.
Prize presentation devoted to the World Press Freedom Day was organized by the Yerevan Press Club, Union of Journalists of Armenia, "Internews" Armenia and the Committee for Protection of the Freedom of Speech
The United Nations General Assembly declared 3 May to be World Press Freedom Day on December 20, 1993 by the special resolution. On that day in the capital of African Namibia Windhoek representatives of the free press of the African countries adopted the Windhoek Declaration. The document calls upon the governments to ensure press freedom and its democratic nature. Declaration says that free and independent press is an essential part of any democratic society.