Armenian Human Rights Defender Concerned Over Media Freedom

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armen Harutiunian, the state human rights ombudsman, described as “worrisome” the situation with media freedom in Armenia, in a special report released on Wednesday.

The report deplores physical attacks on local journalists, “restrictions” on news reporting and strong government influence on Armenian broadcast media.

“There are numerous problems in the Republic of Armenia, and the course of reforms must be accelerated,” Harutiunian said, presenting it at a news conference. “In particular, journalists are subjected to violence for performing their professional duties and, as a rule, the guilty are not brought to justice.”

“People’s rights to receive information are also restricted in many other ways,” said Harutiunian. He noted that such incidents usually occur in the run-up to elections and on polling days. “This means that a culture of sensible political struggle has still not taken hold in the country,” he said.

Harutiunian added that his office looked into Armenian media legislation and found serious “contradictions and flaws” in it. His report points, among other things, to the recently enacted amendments to a law on broadcasting criticized by domestic media watchdogs, the United States and the European Union.

The ombudsman also spoke of “many problems” in the Armenian electronic media. He deplored a lack of pluralism in the news coverage of local TV and radio stations.


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