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Hrant Gadarigian

Association of European Journalists Opposes “Unjustified Government Restrictions on Free Expression” During Coronavirus Crisis

The Association of European Journalists (AEJ), in an open letter addressed to the Presidents of the European Commission, European Council and the European Parliament, has voiced its concern that some governments are taking advantage of the coronavirus emergency and placing disproportionate restrictions on local media outlets. 

The letter, in part, reads:

“We, the undersigned press freedom and freedom of expression organisations, are writing to express our profound concerns about the dangers of governments taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to punish independent and critical media and to introduce restrictions on the access of media to government decision making and action.

“The free flow of independent news is more essential than ever, both for informing the public on vital measures to contain the virus as well as in maintaining public scrutiny and debate on the adequacy of those measures.

“In this respect we support the joint statement put out by the three global and regional special rapporteurs for freedom of expression, David Kaye (U.N.), Harlem Desir (OSCE) and Edison Lanza (OAS), that the “right to freedom of expression, ……, applies to everyone, everywhere, and may only be subject to narrow restrictions”.

The Armenia government, as part of the State of Emergency, has placed restrictions on local media outlets regarding coronavirus related coverage. Media outlets have been instructed to use only government sources, and several have been forced to remove or edit material deemed “panic-mongering” in the eyes of the government.

On March 24,  OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, expressed his concerns  about a package of amendments to the criminal and administrative codes, introduced in Armenia on 23 March, in the context of the fight against disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Désir’s statement on media restrictions in Armenia can be accessed HERE

Photo credits: Shutterstock

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