How to resolve media-related disputes without referring to the courts was the focus of a working seminar organized by the OSCE Office in Yerevan on 5 November 2016 for journalists and media lawyers in Tsaghkadzor, Armenia.
Around 25 participants, including journalists, lawyers involved in freedom of expression litigation, civil society members and representatives of the police took part in the event. Participants discussed the work of the Information Disputes Council (IDC), an extra-judiciary body that provides expert opinions on resolving media-related disputes. They examined a broad range of issues including cases of violence against journalists and the protection of journalists’ rights when covering civic unrest, defamation and insult, personal data protection and free expression, presumption of innocence, as well as pre-trial publicity and the media’s coverage of court trials.
“Extra-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms for media should be strengthened,” said David Gullette, Democratization Programme Officer at the OSCE Office in Yerevan. “They promote media quality and ethics, they can help minimize expensive and time-consuming court litigation and help maintain constructive dialogue between journalists, lawyers and other parties involved, over important aspects of journalistic work particularly on sensitive issues.”
Established in 2011, the mandate of the IDC is to protect freedom of speech and improve access to information, as well as to protect human dignity and the right to a private life by publishing expert opinions and recommendations based on Armenia’s constitution, international legal acts and ethical norms, in cases when judicial disputes occur. The IDC also identifies cases for intervention through its own initiative and advocates for improvements in the issues concerned. Where applicable it also issues joint decisions together with the Media Ethics Observatory, the media self-regulation body in Armenia.
The OSCE Office in Yerevan has been supporting the IDC’s work since its inception to help achieve better protection of free speech in Armenia in line with OSCE commitments in this field.