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Armenian ombudsman’s new report reflects on decision to ban Panorama.am photographer's entry into parliament

10-02-2022, 09:15 Law, Top News
Armenian ombudsman’s new report reflects on decision to ban Panorama.am photographer's entry into parliament

10 February 2022, 09:15 - NovostiNK
Armenia’s Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan on Wednesday published a new ad hoc report on the restrictions of journalists' activities in the National Assembly and impermissible actions of public officials against reporters.

The report underscores that public officials should be guided by the presumption of good faith and legitimacy of journalists' activities. It is particularly about the legality of imposing restrictions on the activities of journalists under the safety rules in place in and around the National Assembly building.

The report stresses the importance of reporters’ professional work according to the rules of responsible journalism. Without professional journalistic work, it is impossible to provide full protection to journalists, the ombudsman’s office said.

Ombudsman Tatoyan himself repeatedly organizes discussions and seminars for journalists about women's rights, labor rights and other topics in an effort to promote journalists’ high professional activity.

The new report is aimed at reaffirming the importance of the professional work of journalists and showing the limits of the state's discretion in interfering with that work.

The ombudsman’s report thoroughly addresses the illegal decision to ban Panorama.am photo correspondent Lilian Galstyan from entering the National Assembly building in August 2021 due to taking photos of security officers on duty in the parliament.

According to the letter addressed to the Panorama.am director, while carrying out her professional activities, the photographer allegedly violated Clause 2.8 of Appendix 1 of the parliament speaker’s decision on the approval of the rules inside the building of the National Assembly, according to which “it is prohibited videotaping, filming and photographing of security personnel during the course of their professional activities on the territory of the protected area, including at checkpoints." Therefore, she was stripped of her accreditation to cover the activities of the National Assembly Eighth Convocation from August 5.

“This letter is particularly problematic in the sense that there are no adequate legal grounds for exerting such influence on a journalist accredited at the National Assembly, the letter contains no substantiation for a specific case or fact, while the title of the official who signed it raises serious doubts,” the ombudsman said.

“In addition, it is unacceptable for security officers serving in the National Assembly to demand that accredited journalists delete photos or video footage they have filmed. Otherwise, they are threatened to be stripped of their accreditation.

“Security officers are not entitled to make such a demand and to strip or threaten to strip journalists of their accreditation if they refuse to obey the demand. In other words, security officers make unlawful demands on journalists under unlawful threats,” the report stressed.

After a letter of the legal representative of Panorama.am to the staff of the National Assembly, the parliament had to revoke the ban on the entry of photographer Lilian Galstyan into the parliament building on 16 August.



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