On March 17 RA National Assembly adopted in the second hearing and finally the draft law “On Introducing Amendments and Supplements to the RA Criminal Code”. As it has been reported, the document was considered in first hearing on November 17, 2009. The authors of the draft, NA deputies from “Orinats Yerkir” faction Hovhannes Margarian and Heghineh Bisharian, suggested to stiffen punishment for impeding the journalistic activities by amending Article 164 (“Impeding the Legitimate Professional Activities of a Journalist”) of RA Criminal Code. The initiative was stipulated by a number of facts indicative of the scarce level of protection of journalists (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, November 13-19, 2009).
The amendments to the Article 164, endorsed by the parliament at the session of March 17, regarded the aggravation of penalties, envisaged by Part 1 and 2 of the Article. The latter was also supplemented with a new 3rd Part. Henceforth Article 164 of Criminal Code reads as follows: impeding the legitimate professional activities of a journalist or forcing the journalist to disseminate or not the information is sentenced by a fine of 200-400 minimum wage (Part 1); the same actions, performed by an official with use of his/her position is sentenced by a fine of 400-700 minimum wage, or by imprisonment for not more than 3 years, or by imprisonment for the same term with deprivation of right to hold certain posts or conduct certain activities within not more than 3 years (Part 2); the actions, envisaged by Parts 1 and 2, attended by either use of violence, or a threat of its use, dangerous for the life and health of the journalist or a member of his/her family, is sentenced by imprisonment for 3-7 years (Part 3).
On the same day, on March 17, the parliament enacted in second hearing and finally another draft law on protection of information sources, initiated by NA deputy Hovhannes Margarian. As it has been reported, the draft law “On Introducing an Amendment to the RA Criminal Procedure Code” was endorsed in first hearing on October 28, 2009 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 23-29, 2009).
The amendment, adopted in second hearing, deals with the Part 2 of Article 16 of RA Criminal Procedure Code (“The Publicity of Court Litigation”) that lists the cases of holding executive court sessions. The Part was supplemented by Point 4, which stipulates that an executive court session is assigned whenever a court decision obliges a person, accomplishing information activities, or a journalist to disclose the information source, and if it is petitioned by the latter.