On December 22 Partnership for Open Society Institute initiative (uniting several dozens of public organizations of Armenia) issued a statement, expressing its concern on the application of provisions of the RA Laws “On Postal Communication” and “On Licensing” on companies, engaged in subscription and dissemination of print periodicals.
As it has been reported, recently referring to the mentioned laws, tax bodies demand these companies to show licenses for disseminating newspapers and magazines by subscription. And since this demand came as a complete surprise for the companies, they were faced by a threat of sanctions that could result in bankruptcy. Previously four professional associations – Yerevan Press Club, Journalists Union of Armenia, Internews Armenia and the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression – stated that these legislative demands run contrary to the right of freedom of expression, recorded in the RA Constitution and a number of international documents, and create a risk of the monopolization of the print press subscription dissemination market (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, December 2-8, 2005).
In the statement by the Partnership for Open Society it is noted that such an interpretation and law application restricts the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, stipulated in the Constitution of the country, and can in no way be viewed to be restriction "to protect state security, public order, to prevent crime, protect health and morals of the society, the constitutional rights and freedoms, dignity and reputation of others”. Such practice also contradicts Article 10 of European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, stipulating that everyone has a right to disseminate information and ideas with no intervention from public bodies, and that licensing related to receipt and dissemination of information can only be applied to radio, television and cinema institutions.
The activities of organizations, the statement of the Partnership stresses, implementing the subscription and delivery of print periodicals, is not covered by the definition of postal services given by the Law “On Postal Communication” and must not be included into the list of such services, and therefore must not be a subject of this law.
Moreover, the licensing of organizations, engaged in dissemination and subscription of print periodicals, does not follow from the principles and aims, stipulated by the Law “On Licensing”, the statement says.
Partnership made an appeal:
– to the Government to stop imposing the same demands on companies engaged in print media dissemination and subscription as on companies providing postal services;
– to RA National Assembly to introduce corresponding amendments in Laws “On Postal Communication” and “On Licensing”, thus creating guarantees for the subscription for periodicals not to be viewed as a postal service and not to be subject to licensing.