At a glance
TSAKHKADZOR, Armenia, 5 August 2011 – A three-day OSCE-supported workshop for Armenian journalists on national legislation and international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief began today in Tsakhkadzor.
The event is organized by the Collaboration for Democracy Centre with the support of the OSCE Office in Yerevan for 20 journalists and follows a similar workshop held on 22-24 July for 20 students.
“Journalists are accountable for the social and political consequences of their actions and have a duty to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards. In this respect, we encourage the media to be responsible and avoid discriminatory and defamatory references to beliefs, religious communities and spiritual values,” said Vladimir Tchountoulov, Human Rights Officer of the OSCE Office in Yerevan.
“We believe that this training will help the Armenian media to broaden their understanding of the issue and improve their reporting style by showing more respect and sensitivity to different groups,” he added.
Workshop participants will discuss how to strike an appropriate balance between the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion or belief. The course will use examples from the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.
Sona Harutyunyan, a journalist from “Hraparak” newspaper, who participated in the event said it “helped to break the stereotypes that we currently have. A new view point was introduced, which was very useful for us, the journalists. The seminar gave us an opportunity to be more impartial and objective in our future work, when writing about religious matters.”
The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights together with the Venice Commission provided two joint opinions on the new draft Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations in 2009 and in 2010. A new package, including a draft law and amendments to other relevant legislation, is currently being developed which will be discussed this month at a roundtable organized jointly by the Armenian Ministry of Justice and the OSCE Office.