May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day

Liana Yeghiazaryan

In 1993 the United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day or just World Press Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.

The freedom of press has considerably improved in Armenia, as assessed by the Freedom House. According to the Freedom of the Press 2013 report, Armenia and Georgia have registered progress, while Azerbaijan’s rating has declined.

To what extent is the press free in Armenia? According to some assessments, the TV Companies are relatively non-free in. The electronic media are the freest, as there are few levers to restrict their activity.

President of the Yerevan Press Club Boris Navasardyan attaches importance to legislative regulations to ensure the freedom of the press.

President of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression Ashot Melikyan positively assesses the improvement of Armenia’s rating in the Freedom House report, but says the result is not satisfactory. He considers that while the electronic media are rather free, the same cannot be said about television. “Every TV Channel presents the interests of its ‘sponsor’ only,” Melikyan said.

Last year the number of lawsuits against media decreased to 17 as compared to 37 cases in 2011. The cases of physical abuse against journalists also decreased last year.

“However, the trend did not continue into 2013. There have already been four cases of violence this year,” Melikyan said.

According to him, the freedom of press is being restricted when media criticize someone’s political image or people representing the business world.

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