Journalists’ Rights And The Penalties For Violating Them

Anahit Danielyan


In Yerevan, the #MyStep campaign continues. There are many journalists and cameramen working on the scene who may meet various obstacles to their professional activities, as has been the case during previous protests.

Media.am presents the journalists’ rights as prescribed by the law, and the penalties incurred for violating them.

A journalist has the right to be present at demonstrations and protests. To do so, there is no need to have accreditation or an previous arrangement with government agencies. A journalist is free to record, broadcast and live-stream videos.

Generally, a journalist can freely seek out, make inquiries, get information and disseminate it. This is defined by the Law on Mass Media.

According to Article 4 of the law, media practitioners and journalists work freely, on the basis of the principles of equality, lawfulness, freedom of expression and pluralism.

A journalist, in the course of their professional activity, as a person fulfilling their civic duty, is protected by the legislation of the Republic of Armenia.

The law prohibits:

  • Censorship.

  • Any coercion of the purposeful dissemination of information or the prevention of information dissemination, or any action towards a correspondent or journalist, that will lead to such.

  • Hindering journalists’ professional activities.

  • Discrimination of a journalist, in terms of necessary equipment and materials for civilian circulation.

  • The restriction of the right of a person to use of any, including foreign, broadcasts and disseminated news.

Journalists need to also remember, that they are not obliged by law to disclose the source of their information, except in the event of a filed criminal case, for the purpose of disclosing a grave or particularly heavy crime, if public interest and the necessity of the criminal defense outweighs the public interest of not disclosing the source of the information, and other means of protecting the public interest have been exhausted.

In that case, by the mediation of the journalist, the court proceedings are held in a closed fashion.  

What penalties await those who hinder journalists’ professional activities?

According to Article 164 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia, hindering a journalist’s legal professional activities or forcing them to disseminate information or forcing to refuse to disseminate information, is punished with a fine in the amount of 200 to 400 times the minimum wage.

The same acts, which are committed by an official using their official position, are punished with a fine amounting to 400 to 700 times the minimum wage, or imprisonment for a maximum sentence of three years, being deprived of the right to hold certain positions or engage in certain activities for a maximum term of three years or without it.

And if the above mentioned acts have been committed by the use of violence against the life or health a journalist or those close to them, or the threat of doing so, the punishment is between 3-7 years of imprisonment.

Anahit Danielyan

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