Law Enforcement Agencies Discuss Reports Of Violence Against Journalist

Tigranuhi Martirosyan

Journalist, SMM specialist

In the Tavush region, journalists faced obstruction for their professional activity during protests against the Armenia-Azerbaijan border delimitation process.

On April 27th, a group of citizens blocked the Yerevan-Tbilisi road at the Dsegh section. The police requested that the demonstration participants open the road, but when they refused, the police used force. The police obstructed the work of a journalist and cameraman from the Oragir. News website, pushing journalist Ani Nerkaryan to the ground and causing injury to their leg.

On the same day, an incident involving the operator of the NewDay news website was reported on the Azatamut-Ijevan road. While law enforcement officers were detaining Vahagn Makhsudyan, an active participant in the protests in Tavush, they also attempted to detain NewDay cameraman Janibek Khachatryan, who was in Makhsudyan’s car with journalist Ani Gevorgyan. During the incident, the operator was knocked to the ground and handcuffed but was later released without being detained.

According to journalist Ani Gevorgyan, Vahagn Makhsudyan was on his way to Ijevan and they asked him to take them shopping. As the operator did not have a badge and was traveling in Makhsudyan’s car, the police apparently mistook him for someone else and then released him.

 Regarding the incident, Artur Hovhannisyan, the deputy of the ruling CP faction, commented that law enforcement agencies could not identify the operator at that time due to the absence of a badge.

“How should the police identify a person without a badge? In other words, during police operations, it is not feasible for officers to ask every individual for identification. Journalists and camera operators working in the area should wear badges to avoid confusion. If a police officer oversteps their authority, there is a legal process to investigate and take appropriate action,” argued Artur Hovhannisyan.

During a protest in Yerevan on April 30, a 24news.am journalist was pushed by the police. In the video of the incident it can be seen that the police began pushing the journalist after an argument in an effort to remove him from the street.

Journalistic organizations and the Union of Journalists condemned police behavior towards NewDay.am and Oragir.news journalists.

“It has become a common practice for the police to target media workers who are performing their professional duties during protests and to attack and use violence against them. Unfortunately, these actions often go unpunished,” alerted the journalistic organizations. They are demanding that the government of the Republic of Armenia organize a discussion with the participation of high-ranking officials from law enforcement agencies, journalistic organizations, and media representatives. The goal of this discussion would be to address the problems outlined above, to make decisions to prevent violations of journalists’ rights, and to take adequate measures to stop illegal violence.

The Union of Journalists has urged the authorities responsible for defending human rights and all relevant institutions to conduct an investigation into the recent incident. They have also called on international organizations to take notice of the “shameful actions” against the press, free speech, and the professional work of journalists and not ignore the matter.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has confirmed that two cases related to NewDay.am and Oragir.news are currently under investigation. It is currently unknown whether any police officers have been accused of violence against journalists.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Narek Sargsyan, stated that they have a great deal of respect for journalists’ work and are not interested in obstructing their professional duties. He warmly welcomed the proposal of journalistic organizations to arrange meetings and discussions. He revealed that he intends to organize a meeting shortly, specifically to discuss communication practices during crises.

Tigranuhi Martirosyan

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