Investigative Journalists Sue Chief of Customs Committee

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The "Association of Investigative Journalists" public organization appealed to state court with a civil claim against Armen Avetisyan–the Chief of the State Customs Committee–for his failure to supply necessary information to the organization. The unprecedented trial will begin at the court of the first instance of the Center and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan on December 18. The judge presiding over the case will be Judge Vazgen Lalayan.

Journalists asked questions about the legality of the activities of organizations which exploits mines–exploits the quantity of exported products and exploits the paid customs. The chief of the Customs Committee refused to answer the questions–and said that the Committee cannot give out such information–"taking into account the provisions of Article 16 of the Armenian Customs Code," according to which "information given to customs bodies for the purpose of carrying out customs activities cannot be used by the customs bodies for other purposes with the exception of cases foreseen by the law."

The journalists investigating this case are sure that the article was violated: Article 24 of the Armenian Constitution–Article 4 of the law on the order of discussion of proposals–applications and complaints of citizens–Article 10 of the European Convention "On Human Rights and Basic Freedoms," Article 27 of the Armenian law code "On the press and other mass media," and Article 19 of the convention "On Civil and Political Rights." According to the journalists–they are not requesting the Committee divulge any state or committee secrets–they are only asking for information that is–by law–entitled to the public. The journalists deemed the refusal from the committee as a violation of their rights to information and filed this lawsuit against the State Customs Committee.

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