Journalist Evictions From NA Lodge Amid Tensions: A Recurring Tradition?

Marianna Danielyan


Yesterday, on June 12, during the question-and-answer session with the Government in the National Assembly, an incident occurred between security officers and journalists. The security staff of the National Assembly attempted to remove journalists from the designated press area by force.

In the course of Nikol Pashinyan’s speech, the atmosphere in the National Assembly grew tense as the deputies began to insult and quarrel with each other. The Speaker of the National Assembly announced a break, after which the live broadcast was switched off.

Knar Manukyan, the editor of Zhoghovurd Daily, reported that security officers entered the lodge assigned to journalists and, without providing any explanation or justification, began using force to remove the journalists from the place designated for their professional activities.

I witnessed security officers twisting my colleagues, journalists from 24 News and Channel 5, out of the lodge. At the time, I was filming their actions and urging the security officers not to interfere with the journalists’ professional activities and to respect our rights, as we were in a designated working area.

“I repeatedly emphasized that the National Assembly is a public place, and this lodge is reserved by law for journalists. We should show the public what is happening in the National Assembly,” Knar Manukyan said.

The journalist stated that what happened was neither lawful nor fair. She mentioned that in the past, she had stayed in the same lodge during breaks and continued filming events in the hall without any issues.

Hakob Karapetyan, a media expert at the Yerevan Press Club, believes that the recent events represent a restriction on journalists’ professional activities. According to Armenian legislation and international norms, limitations on journalists’ professional activities are only permissible in specific cases, which must be publicly justified. In this instance, no such justification has been provided.

“We can assume that by announcing a break in the National Assembly, turning off the live broadcast, and inviting journalists out of their working lodge, an attempt was made to close off that information channel as well. This was done to hide what was happening in the hall from the public, which is concerning. In any case, the public should have the opportunity to know what is happening. It is also important to consider how the given action is performed.”

“Get out of here quickly, quickly.” What does this mean? Such communication style should have disappeared a long time ago. Unfortunately, in recent years, particularly in the National Assembly, we often see restrictions on the activities of journalists, including the presence of uniformed officers,” says the media expert.

Expelling journalists from the lodge designated for professional activities has become a tradition in the National Assembly. Whenever the situation in the meeting hall becomes tense, the same sequence of events unfolds. This was observed during the sessions of August 25 and August 11, 2021, and has been a recurring pattern for years.

Three years ago, journalistic human rights organizations expressed their concerns about the authorities’ illegal actions. They noted that the actions taken against journalists and operators accredited by the National Assembly are illegal and violate freedom of speech and the public’s right to information. 

In the statement released by journalistic organizations on August 11, 2021, it was stated:

  • We note that the Speaker of the National Assembly has exceeded his authority. The RA Constitutional Law “Regulations of the National Assembly” does not provide for such a function. RA citizens have the right to be informed about the proceedings in the parliament and the conduct of each deputy, whether the evaluation is positive or negative.
  • We insist on excluding any measures that would obstruct journalists’ professional activities and impose unjustified restrictions on the National Assembly.

Three years later, the situation and requirements have stayed the same. Today, journalistic organizations have once again expressed concern regarding obstructing journalists’ professional activities in the National Assembly. They have noted that this practice has become a harmful tradition in the parliament.

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