The Council of Europe’s Safety of Journalists Platform issued a level one alarm about the harassment of journalists after Pashinyan’s press conference.

14:12 03-08-2023

 The Safety of Journalists Platform by the Council of Europe (CoE) has joined the Union of Journalists of Armenia (UJA), as well as its partners, two international journalism organizations based in Brussels to the statements of the prestigious organizations “International Federation of Journalists” and “European Federation of Journalists” (IFJ, EFJ), which condemned the RA authorities and supporters of the government after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s press conference in Yerevan on July 25 on social networks and some organized campaign of insults and harassment in online media against news site founder Ani Gevorgyan and journalist Hripsime Jebejyan

To remind, that the Safety of Journalists Platform of the Council of Europe promotes cooperation and dialogue between the Council of Europe, the 47 member states of the Council of Europe and partner NGOs on issues related to media freedom. International NGOs and the Association of Journalists post relevant alerts on the platform with their own verification. These signals are transmitted to the Member States concerned, who can post reports on their follow-up.

Since 2015, the Platform has been contributing to the collection, distribution, and raising of information on serious concerns regarding freedom of the media and journalists, media safety, threats, and freedom of speech in the member states of the Council of Europe.

The Platform enables the Council of Europe to inform more systematically about the situation related to media freedom in the member states and to take timely and coordinated actions if necessary.

The Safety of Journalists Platform raised a level one alarm with the title “Journalists are being harassed online after the Prime Minister’s press conference” and wrote:

“The Union of Journalists of Armenia (UJA) condemned the harassment of journalists and their relatives after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s press conference in Yerevan on July 25 in a climate of tension in the wake of recent events in Nagorno-Karabakh

The founder of the news website Ani Gevorgyan and the journalist of Hripsime Jebejyan were addressed with rude insults, threats of death and physical violence on social networks and some online media.

In an announcement published on July 26, the Union of Journalists of Armenia condemned the organized, targeted and brazen attacks of activists close to the government and some government officials. The Union of Journalists of Armenia emphasized that the journalists behaved professionally at the press conference and referred the issue of organized attacks against journalists to Human Rights Defender Anahit Manasyan.

The level one alarm is raised in emergency and difficult situations, when the risk of threats, harassment, and their consequences is very high.

(1 Level:  Covers the most severe and damaging violations of media freedom, including but not limited to murder, assassination or direct threat to the life of journalists or other media actors, or their family members, because of their journalistic work; physical assaults or any acts causing grievous injury to journalists or other media actors, or the use of violence to threaten their physical safety; impunity for any such violations; prolonged arbitrary detention or imprisonment of journalists because of their professional activities or their status as journalist; arbitrary closure of a media enterprise; and any other acts posing a grave threat or having a severe impact on media freedom, online or offline):

By the way, before that, Council of Europe’s Safety of Journalists Platform had raised an alarm about the campaign initiated by the Deputy Mayor of Yerevan, Tigran Avinyan, against “168 Hours” and journalist Davit Sargsyan.

To remind, on February 25, 2023, and the YouTube channel of the website published the regular edition of the “Two Faces” program authored by journalist Davit Sargsyan, the de facto mayor of Yerevan, the mayoral candidate of Nikol Pashinyan’s “Civil Contract” party in the upcoming elections of the Yerevan Council about Avinyan.

The video was titled “Tigran Avinyan, the newly richman”. It used excerpts from Tigran Avinyan’s interviews, and other information about the deputy mayor and his family, friends’ businesses, and property taken exclusively from open sources. Tigran Avinyan applied to the court to make the journalist apologize, to oblige him to deny the information defaming his honor, dignity and business reputation and to pay monetary compensation. In general, Tigran Avinyan demanded that 18 million drams be imposed on the property and bank accounts of journalist Davit Sargsyan and “168 Hours”.

Union of Journalists of Armenia