April 13
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Arusyak Julhakyan a member of Armenia’s National Assembly (NA) delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), delivered an address at the PACE session in Strasbourg, France, the NA informed. The Armenian MP stated as follows:

“Dear colleagues,

As Council of Europe member states, we have committed ourselves to upholding the principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. One fundamental aspect of these principles is the protection and promotion of freedom of expression as the cornerstone of democracy. It is not just a privilege but a right enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, reflecting our shared commitment to a free and open society.

In an era where information is a powerful force, we must recognize the pivotal role that journalists play in preserving the foundations of our societies. Their work is supposed to be not only a beacon of truth but also a check on power, a guardian of democracy, and a voice for the voiceless.

The safety of journalists is not just a matter of individual rights, but a collective responsibility. Member states must enact and enforce laws that safeguard journalists, investigate and prosecute those who threaten or harm them, and create an atmosphere that encourages a vibrant and diverse media landscape. A free press is essential for a flourishing democracy, and its protection is incumbent upon each and every of us.

From this aspect one of the crucial steps to be taken is the decriminalization of insult and defamation by all the member states. It’s weird to have defamation as criminal offense in the 21st century while being a part of the democratic world. But here not only good laws and regulations are important but also the judicial practice. Let me bring the Armenian example. When we decriminalized insult and defamation in 2010 this became another tool for the political and business elite to financially oppress the journalists and media outlets, as the courts during the first period after the decriminalization used to impose the highest fines as compensation for insult and defamation, thus making them to close down. Fortunately, shortly we received judgments from Constitutional and Cassation courts which significantly contributed to regulation of the judicial practice and explain how the civil code provisions concerning the compensations for insult and defamation should be interpreted by the judges.

Dear colleagues, in conclusion, safeguarding media freedom and ensuring the safety of journalists is not just an obligation - it is a cornerstone of our shared commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law within the Council of Europe. Let us stand together, resolute in our determination to protect those who hold power accountable, and who contribute to the flourishing of our democratic societies.

Thank you.”

This text available in   Հայերեն and Русский
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