Armenia has passed a law banning reporters from attending Yerevan City Council. The law comes just weeks after reporters captured the physical assault of two female councillors in the council chamber.
Armenia’s parliament, the National Assembly, approved the government proposal on Friday, RFE/RL’s Armenian service Azatutyun reported.
A week after two women from the opposition Yerkir Tsirani (Apricot Country) party were attacked and thrown out of the council by a number male councillors from the ruling Republican Party in February, Yerevan’s Mayor Taron Markarian began to ‘regulate’ media access.
Yerevan-based rights group Human Rights Power told OC Media that the bill, which has already been adopted, ‘deprives journalists of the right to enter Yerevan City Hall’.
According to them, the law says that reporters will only be able to follow council sessions through monitors, which are to be installed in a ‘special place, separated from the local self-governing body of Yerevan’. Reporters will require permission from the Mayor’s Office to attend.
Azatutyun quoted Justice Minister Davit Harutiunian as justifying the move by saying that the same rules apply to reporters who cover the Armenian parliament.
Arman Gharibyan, co-founder of Human Rights Power, told OC Media by email that the changes not only deprive journalists of the opportunity to ‘follow the processes of the sessions, but also prevents them from being able to ask Government members questions’ without a special permit.
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