PACE rapporteurs urge Armenian authorities to revise media legislation

trasbourg, 24.06.2010 – The two co-rapporteurs on Armenia of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), John Prescott (United Kingdom, SOC) and Georges Colombier (France, EPP/CD), have welcomed a series of initiatives outlined in the reply of the Speaker of the Armenian Parliament to their letter recommending the establishment of a clear roadmap for reforms in Armenia. While not able to give a detailed assessment of the initiatives outlined in the letter at this stage, they cautioned that more needs to be done to ensure that the reforms address the important issues raised by the Assembly.

“With regard to the electoral code outlined in the Speaker’s letter, we note that the draft code has not been discussed with the opposition in the framework of the working group especially set up for this purpose. It is clear to us that any election code that has not been discussed with the different political forces in the country, and that is not based on an as wide as possible a consensus among them, will not help to create the necessary public trust in the electoral system,” said the co-rapporteurs.

In addition, the co-rapporteurs expressed their concern about the amendments to the Law on Broadcasting. They noted that several highly-respected organisations have criticised this law for failing to ensure the required pluralistic media environment in Armenia. In that respect, they underscored that in the view of the Assembly, as adopted in several of its resolutions, the reform of the legal framework for the media in Armenia should not only result in a fully transparent  licensing procedure, but also in a far more diverse and pluralistic media environment than is currently the case in Armenia.

The rapporteurs expressed their satisfaction with the direction of the police reform and reform of the justice sector. In that respect they stressed that the independence of the proposed police complaints body should be fully guaranteed in law and that this body should have wide investigative powers. Moreover, they stressed that the recommendations contained in the report of OSCE/ODIHR on the trial monitoring project in Armenia should be fully taken into account when elaborating the reforms in the justice sector.

“We will return to Armenia in the autumn to discuss these issues in full detail with the authorities. Our discussions will also be based upon the results of a hearing in the Monitoring Committee with a wide range of Armenian political forces that we intend to organise,” they concluded.