The Ministry Of Defense Considers The Information Published By The Human Rights Defender To Be Confidential

Ophelia Simonyan

Journalist, fact-checker

On March 22, media.am wrote a written request to the Ministry of Defense, asking it to provide data on the number of female servicemen involved in the Armed Forces. Predicting that the publication of a specific number could be problematic, we also mentioned that in case of impossibility to provide that data, the department simply shares what percentage of the Armenian Armed Forces are women. 

On April 7, the ministry replied that the information we requested was confidential, therefore it could not provide it. Instead, it noted that in 2021, compared to 2020, the percentage of women in the total number of contract employees increased by 0.8%. 

It is worth noting, however, that the information kept secret by the Ministry of Defense was published this year in the Human Rights Defender’s 2021 annual report. It specifically states that as of 2021, women make up 0.5% of the total number of contract servicemen. 

“According to the information provided by the Ministry of Defense, as of 2021, 0.5% of the total number of contract servicemen of the RA Armed Forces are female. Among the total number of female servicemen, according to the classification of official groups, the quantitative distribution of female servicemen is as follows: 

? officer staff – 14.3% 

? senior officers – 4.7% 

? junior officers – 9.6% 

? senior non-commissioned officers – 34.9% 

? contract junior non-commissioned officers and privates – 50.8% 

“The number of female servicemen in the military units located in Yerevan is 34.6%, and in the regions – 65.4%,” the report says. 

The Human Rights Defender also published information about 2019: 

“In 2019, the total number of women contract servicemen of the Armed Forces was 9.1%, and in 2020, female servicemen made up 8.5%.” 

Thus, the Ministry of Defense refused to publish and qualified as confidential information that which it had already provided to the Human Rights Defender, and the structure published it in its annual report. Media.am applied to the Ministry of Defense to clarify the situation weeks ago, but the structure asked for additional time to respond and has not responded yet. 

There have been similar cases before 

This is not the first case where state structures have refused to provide information to the media for unfounded reasons. 

Last month, we asked the police how many civilians were allowed to carry weapons and how many of them used weapons illegally. The police refused to answer the first question, describing it as “top secret.” They did not answer the second question, substantiating that such “registration is not carried out” within the structure. 

About 25 days after this answer, the deputy of the NA CC faction Vilen Gabrielyan published statistics in an interview on the number of illegal uses of legal weapons. According to him, 2-3 crimes take place annually using legal weapons. In a conversation with us, Vilen Gabrielyan mentioned the source of information as being the police and provided us with his reply from the latter.  In fact, the police refused to provide us with the same information that they had provided Vilen Gabrielyan months ago. 

In another episode, the police refused to provide information to the “Fact-Finding Platform” (FIP.am) about the circumstances of the death of a citizen who died on May 5 in France Square. The refusal was based on the law on the privacy of personal and family life. It is worth noting, however, that two days ago the information about the cause of death of the citizen had already appeared in the official messages of the ministry. 

Ophelia Simonyan 

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