Armenia is officially the 80th country in the world according to the World Press Freedom Index. That places Armenia within the partially media free countries with the aggregate score of freedom just above 50. Freedom score is concluded by evaluating the basic civil liberties and political rights of the citizens. The first factor responsible for the country’s social instability is the lack of obedience towards the country’s laws. Armenia has a number of regulations considering social freedom and equality. The most violated articles concerning freedom in the Armenian constitution are 24, 27 and 29.
The mentioned articles are regulating the freedom of opinion, expression and physical movement. Besides the fair amount of gaps within those articles, in a perfect society they would be well adopted and accomplished. The Massive misinterpretation of the laws and political abuse of the power has greatly shaken the Armenian stability. Therefore, the last few decades have been symbolized by the big number of protests against the government.
Most of the accidents became widely known only because of the severe measurements taken by the police against the journalists and citizens. The last accident happened in the early April of 2018. Journalists being physically abused by the police resulted with the whole world being concerned about the Armenian social freedom. During the demonstrations in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, police caught a small group of journalists, broke their equipment and caused many injuries. No charges were pressed against the police. Injured journalists were radio and internet reporters, which brought people to the conclusion that those are only platforms that are not fully controlled by the government.
The last television that dared to speak against the government in Armenia, called A+, was taken down in 2002. National Broadcasting Service, controlled by the government, decided to close the station under the excuse that “their plans just weren’t good enough”. The international trial concerning this action has lasted up until the end of 2008. Armenian government had to pay the fine of over 30 000 EUR to the television because of the violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. In spite of the measurements that have been taken, television still suffers the restrictions, making this a popular issue even now.
Only in 2010, label and slender in Armenia were decriminalized. In 2014, an Armenian internet journalist faced jail time for not revealing the source for the story. Even though this case was dismissed after a year, there are still a lot of problems concerning the juristical system in Armenia.
Political and economic issues are direct results of country’s corruption and the present dictatorship. Most of the visual and printed media are directly financed by the state, meaning that the only option for becoming a journalist is by obeying the state’s will. Furthermore concerning the overall disposable income in Armenia, most of those journalists would much rather work in favor of the country than not work at all. Under the political influence journalists are forced to approach the policy of self-censorship, making the media environment in Armenia bold, one-sided and in the desperate need of rapid changes.
Nikola Savic is a student of Business administration, Journalism and Mass Communication on American University in Bulgaria.