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AGHVERAN. - Resolving cases of defamation and insult without resorting to the courts is the focus of a two-day OSCE-supported workshop for journalists and lawyers that started today in Aghveran, Armenia.

The event, organized by the OSCE Office in Yerevan and the Armenian Freedom of Information Centre, aims to inform journalists and lawyers about the work of the Information Disputes Council (IDC) as an extra-judiciary body that can solve media-related disputes. The IDC was established in May 2011 in response to a significant increase in the number of defamation court cases against the media.

“While civil society reports show a considerable decrease in the number of defamation and insult cases this year, it remains important that local and international stakeholders continue to monitor the situation and advocate for improvement. In supporting the activities of the IDC, we backstop mechanisms for out-of-court dispute resolution, and promote ethical journalism which will ultimately have a positive effect on the overall quality of the media landscape,” said Oliver McCoy, Democratization Programme Officer at the OSCE Office in Yerevan. 

The mandate of the IDC is to protect freedom of speech and improve access to information, as well as to protect human dignity and the right to a private life by publishing expert opinions and recommendations based on Armenia’s Constitution, international legal acts and ethical norms, in cases when judicial disputes occur.

Shushan Doydoyan, the Head of the Freedom of Information Centre, and a founding member of the IDC, added: “In some cases the IDC rings a bell when problematic legal issues arise for media freedom, as was the case with the decision of the Court of Cassation regarding the definition of news sources. The IDC also serves as an alternative, unbiased body for media-related dispute resolution. The decisions of the IDC can also have a preventive impact when parties to a dispute try to solve their dispute without the court’s involvement”.

The workshop will introduce and elaborate on the opinions prepared by the IDC, as well as review court cases related to defamation and insult. By analyzing litigation and highlighting the role of the IDC, the organizers hope to promote improved protection for free speech in Armenia pursuant to OSCE commitments.

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