At a glance
The OSCE Office in Yerevan monitors freedom of the media in Armenia, with a particular focus on media-related legislation. In terms of its support, the Office facilitates expert reviews of media legislation in order to assess compliance with international best practices. The Office also implements activities that seek to sensitize journalists, lawyers involved in freedom of expression (FoE) litigation, and judges on the international FoE standards. The Office works closely with the Armenian Government and civil society to improve governmental transparency and accountability by promoting greater access to public information. Within its portfolio of activities, the Office supports discussions and exchanges on the impact of blogging and new communication technologies on the media landscape and on the exercise of the right of access to public information.
In close co-operation with the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Office assists Armenia review and amend broadcasting legislation. In this regard, the Office provides expertise and supports public discussions. In advance of Armenia’s transition from analogue to digital broadcasting anticipated in 2015, it is crucial for Armenia to adopt legislation that will promote media pluralism in the digital era and that engenders public access to information. By bringing in international experience, the Office generates debate on the challenges of and opportunities offered by the digital switchover and raises awareness on this major technological development.
Acknowledging the growing importance of the new media, the Office supports projects that offer training on the effective use of new media technologies in journalism. Target groups include educators and journalists from all over Armenia.
The Office follows cases of violence and intimidation against journalists. The Office encourages law-enforcement bodies to ensure thorough investigation of such cases, as well as cases concerning interference in the professional activities of journalists. The Office monitors the progress of related criminal cases and follows up on an ad hoc basis.
Moreover, the Office supports a project that promotes awareness on the cases of violent attacks and intimidation against media professionals, as well as on defamation cases, through publishing articles about these cases and their investigation.
In conjunction with local and international partners, the Office has co-organized a series of training workshops for Armenian journalists, lawyers and judges on international freedom of expression standards. The training workshops were designed in response to the increasing number of court cases filed against Armenian media providers and journalists following the decriminalization of defamation and insult in Armenia in 2010. The training workshops focused on defamation and insult, privacy, contempt of court, court reporting, and regulation of freedom of expression in the context of elections. The Office continues to support the capacities of the three target groups with other interventions, which promote better judicial protection of the right to free expression and ethical reporting by the media.
The Office undertakes a number of activities to improve governmental transparency and accountability. Projects of this nature include: organizing of training workshops for civil servants on access to information and empowering local non-governmental organizations to survey and report effectively. As a result of these efforts, a training programme was developed, which is now included in the curriculum of the Civil Service Council. In addition, the Office has assisted the Council in developing service passports for civil service information officers that clearly specify their functions and responsibilities in the freedom of information field. Notably, in 2011 the Office supported a nation-wide freedom of information survey which provided recommendations on how to further improve free access to government-held information.