Central Electoral Commission
Five non-governmental organizations released a statement expressing their concern about some provisions of the procedure of journalists’ accreditation by Central Electoral Commission (CEC). The CEC also responded to the statement.
It is mentioned in the procedure of Central Electoral Commission issued on January 31, 2012, that the CEC “provides non-discriminatory conditions for all the journalists”. At the same time it defines the grounds for the denial and termination of the accreditation.
TheYerevan Press Club, Committee to Protect the Freedom of Expression, “Internews” media support NGO, Media Diversity Institute-Armenia, “Asparez” journalists’ club are concerned with these two grounds of denial and termination of the accreditation. The journalist’s accreditation is denied or terminated if “he/she has disseminated such information about the (officials of) electoral commissions that do not correspond to the reality” or “is sentenced for an intentional crime and his/her conviction has not expired or been removed”.
“In fact, the CEC has decided to discriminate the journalists. They made restrictions of the accreditation procedure on the basis of theoretical assumptions. And most likely these restrictions would not function as I do not know a single journalist about whom there is a court decision that he/she had disseminated false information about CEC. This decision is made only in black and white, and I consider it inactivity, and the inactivity is not a good thing”, says Levon Barseghyan, president of Asparez” journalists’ club.
The authors of the statement think that the procedure may restrict the professional activities of the journalists depriving them of the possibility of accreditation for the “past sins”, which is unacceptable in the county that teaches democratic values.
The organizations consider the denial or termination of accreditation of those journalists, who had disseminated untrue information as a CEC guarantee of protection from the criticism. This provision raises concern taking into account the defective practice after the decriminalization of the article on defamation and insult.
The grounds of denial and termination of the accreditation are unacceptable for the journalistic organizations, because they can pointlessly restrict the journalists’ activities during the electoral period, which is of utmost importance for the state. Thus, they demand from the CEC to revise the above mentioned two problematic provisions of journalist accreditation procedure.
It was mentioned in the CEC interpretation that the model of accreditation of RA government bodies is determined by 333-N decreeof the RA Government adopted on March 4, 2004. And the grounds for denial defined in the CEC journalists’ accreditation procedure are derived from that decree.
The interpretation also mentioned that the CEC accreditation was carried out based on the similar procedure in 2004 and neither previous years, nor this year, no case of the accreditation denial has been registered.
The president of “Asparez” journalists’ club considers this an “interpretation of self-defense”. “I am sure that no one would suffer if the commission did not issue a new decree and continued to implement the accreditation like it previously did. I don’t know where they dug this decree from”, mentions Levon Barseghyan.