“Path of law” calls for a respect of the freedom of expression27.09.2019
On 17 July 2019, during an interview with “Azatutyun”, Nikol Pashinyan, the incumbent Prime Minister, addressed the issue of reforms in the judiciary by stating the following: “Now when the court makes a decision, the society and the press express opinions that the decisions have been made upon my instructions….It turns out that apparently the judiciary was not independent and now it is desperately looking for a “master”. I don’t rule out the possibility that sometimes the judges even look for a “master” outside Armenia….These judges are looking for a “master” and are yelping under the walls of their “masters””.
On 27 September 2019, late in the evening, several supporters of Robert Kocharyan, the second President of the Republic of Armenia (Narek Mutafyan and Sargis Ohanjanyan), approached Ms Anna Danibekyan (presiding judge in the case of Kocharyan) at the street and by repeating the wording of the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan asked whether Ms Danibekyan was included in the list of “yelping”.
Afterward, a criminal case has been launched against Narek Mutafyan and Sargis Ohanjanyan for obstruction of justice. Detention has been applied as a measure of restraint.
Importantly, the question asked by Mutafyan and Ohanjanyan was only the reproduction of a sentence expressed by the Prime Minister, which indeed damages the reputation of the judiciary. The “author” of the foregoing statement remained unpunished, yet those who have simply reproduced the said statement were subjected to criminal liability.
The conduct of state authorities not only amounts to a violation of freedom of expression, but also discloses discriminatory approach for political ends.