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Ombudsman Calls Media Situation 'Worrisome'


Armenia -- Armen Harutiunian, the country's human rights ombudsman, at a news conference in Yerevan, 7July 2010.

Armenia -- Armen Harutiunian, the country's human rights ombudsman, at a news conference in Yerevan, 7July 2010.

Armenia's human rights ombudsman has
described the situation regarding media freedom in the country as "worrisome"
in a special report released on July 7, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Ombudsman Armen Harutiunian's report deplores physical attacks on local
journalists, "restrictions" on news reporting, and strong government influence
on Armenia's broadcast media.

"There are numerous problems in the republic of Armenia and the course of
reforms must be accelerated," Harutiunian said in presenting the report at a
news conference. "In particular, journalists are subjected to violence for
performing their professional duties and, as a rule, the guilty are not brought
to justice."

Harutiunian said the "people's rights to receive information are also
restricted in many other ways." He noted that such incidents usually occur in
the run-up to elections and on polling days.

"This means that a culture of sensible political struggle has still not taken
hold in the country," Harutiunian said.

Harutiunian said his office has looked into the country's media legislation and
found serious "contradictions and flaws." His report points to, among other
things, the recently enacted amendments to a law on broadcasting criticized by
domestic media watchdogs, the United States, and the European Union.

Harutiunian also spoke of "many problems" with Armenia's electronic media. And
he deplored a lack of pluralism in news coverage on local television and radio.

Compiled by RFE/RL's O wire.
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