The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Armenia has set criteria for journalists who will be allowed to cover electoral process.
According to the CEC, these journalists must not
- be recognized incompetent by court
- be convicted of premeditated crimes
- have outstanding convictions
- have spread false information about officials (members of the election committee), which is confirmed by court.
These criteria were not applied during the previous elections. Editors-in-chief usually asked the CEC in a written letter to accredit their journalist(s) and sent his/her photo for the CEC to be able to provide an accreditation.
"The CEC made an arbitrary decision which conflicts with the current legislation and the Constitution," said Ashot Melikyan, Head of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Speech (CPFS).
"The provision is particularly vulnerable from the legal point of view. It is well known that officials perceive any criticism against them as libel and slander and take it to court. Since Armenia lacks an independent judiciary, legal disputes, as a rule, are resolved in favor of officials and to the detriment of journalists. As a result, journalists are later denied the right to cover elections," he added.