June 25
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YEREVAN. – Zhoghovurd newspaper of the Republic of Armenia (RA) writes: During the regular session of the National Assembly [(NA)] starting on May 4, it is planned to discuss in the second reading the RA draft law "On Making Amendments and Addenda to the Criminal Code." Although the ruling My Step faction was able to pass it quickly without problems, the changes are a cause for concern.

Zhoghovurd daily was informed that Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan also reflected on this Code. The thing is that the provisions related to the mass media are especially worrying.

In particular, Article 9 of the Code proposes to supplement the Criminal Code with a new Article 154.15: "Publishing false information or slander about a party (party bloc) or candidate running in elections." The latter envisages punishment for publishing false information or slander about a party (party bloc) or candidate running in elections, during election campaign season, on election day, before the end of the election, or on the day before, for the purpose of damaging the rating through an anonymous source, through information and communication technologies.

Section 2 of the same article prescribes punishment for the same act committed through five or more anonymous sources.

However, the Human Rights Defender emphasizes that since 2010, defamation and insult have been decriminalized, and these institutions have been transferred to the sphere of normalization of civil law relations.

Tatoyan notes that the terms "through an anonymous source" and "in order to damage the rating" of the act being criminalized are a cause for concern. And based on all this, the Human Rights Defender proposes to take into account those risks.

Let us note that this is another bill against the media [of Armenia], and some of them have yet to reach the NA.

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