Armenian Journalists Injured in Police Violence against Media Journalists covering Street Demonstrations

Update: 17 Apr 2018 State replied
Year 30 Jul 2016 Country Armenia Category Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat State Partner AEJ , Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
30 Jul 2016 Armenia Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists State AEJ , Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2

On the evening of Friday 29 July, at least ten journalists suffered burns, bruises or other injuries after being hit by police stun grenades or beaten in Yerevan while covering a demonstration by supporters of an armed group which stormed and occupied a police station in the Erebuni district two weeks ago. One policeman was reported killed and others injured during the seizure of the police facility. The media workers injured in the latest clashes include three journalists of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Armenian service, and journalists or camera operators of CivilNet and A1+ TV, according to local media reports. The director of RFE/RL’s Armenian broadcasting service claimed that unidentified plainclothes police officers targeted and attacked the station’s three journalists with batons, smashed their equipment and tore off their press badges, forcing them to abandon a live broadcast from the spot. A journalist and cameraman of A1+ alleged that they were forcibly removed from their company vehicles, beaten, and also had their press badges violently torn off. The armed occupiers of the police station, who have identified themselves as belonging to the anti-government Sasna Tsrer group, earlier held negotiations with government representatives and released a number of hostages. They had reportedly also been permitted some days ago to speak with a group of journalists about their political demands. An Armenian police spokesman was reported as saying that prompt investigations would be conducted into the reports of violence against journalists. The media concerned expect those investigations to include a number of suspected plainclothes police who used excessive force against them. The latest assaults against media workers follow several previous cases of beatings, harassment, destruction of recording equipment and obstruction against journalists in the same part of Yerevan since 18 July , as journalists have reported on the on-going standoff as well as public demonstrations in the vicinity of the occupied police station.

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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