RA Human Rights Defender Karen Andreasyan today issued a statement to Armenian journalists, saying that he will appeal to the RA Constitutional Court this week regarding the issue of unconstitutional provisions in the RA Civil Code regarding libel and defamation.
In the statement, the Ombudsman draws attention to criticisms in the local journalistic community regarding Andreasyan’s move to decriminalize libel while he was employed in a private law firm (prior to his current post) which resulted in amendments to the Civil Code made last year.
Despite criticisms, Andreasyan notes that the current legislation corresponds to international norms and “if applied well, can effectively guarantee both freedom of speech and a person’s right to dignity.”
The Human Rights Defender, continuing, weighed in on the drastic increase of the number of lawsuits mainly launched by MPs and major businessman against newspapers following the amendments to the Civil Code:
“The current quantity of civil suits would not endanger freedom of speech if this freedom did not threaten the judge who applies legislation unlawfully and unjustly (hereinafter, a nefarious judge).
“The complaints resulting from the current application of the law prove that as in other areas, so as in the area of freedom of speech, the nefarious judge discredits a good law and the RA legislation, discredits good judges and the entire judicial system, discredits all the branches of our government and the state. Eliminating the factor of the nefarious judge is my work and the work of journalists, fair judges and every individual concerned for human rights.[…]
“Nevertheless, considering that my convictions and approaches might be perceived as preconceived by the proposer of the legislative amendments, as well as understanding the argument that the current application of the law by the courts is due to the ambiguous descriptions of the law, I have decided to submit these concerns to the RA Constitutional Court for examination,” reads the statement, in part.