AEJ Armenia and the Armenian Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression are closely following the progress – and often the lack of progress – in official investigations following a spate of violent incidents targeting journalists on 6 December 2015, the day of the controversial constitutional change referendum.
Currently two criminal cases have been opened out of 12 cases in which reporters have alleged that their professional activities as journalists covering the important vote were obstructed. Press freedom organisations in Armenia maintain that legislation designed to protect the work of journalists against frequent acts and threats of violence and intimidation are rarely applied because of repeated failures and lack of action on the part of police and prosecutors.
Critics allege that the change to the constitution was engineered as a device to sidestep the agreed rules of Armenia’s democracy and to keep President Serzh Sarkisian in power after his second term in office ends in 2018.
The following article by Liana Sayadyan recounts the story of attempts to expose and gain redress for numerous cases of obstruction and intimidation of reporters on the day of the referendum on the constitutional change proposals, which were backed by 63 percent of voters.
Armenia’s Constitutional Referendum: 12 Incidents of Reporter Obstruction and Only 2 Criminal Cases