The European Court of Human Rights has sent inquiries to the Armenian government in regard the case of journalist Ani Gevorgyan, which former Yerevan Police Chief Artak Poghosyan is going through.
It should be reminded that on February 12, 2014, while covering the March 1 rally of ANC activists on Mashtots Avenue in Yerevan, Ani Gevorgyan was taken to the Kentron [Center] Police Department. According to Ani Gevorgyan, the police used violence against the protesters, obstructing their professional activities. Ani Gevorgyan was taken to the Kentron Police Department, where the head of the department Artak Poghosyan slapped the journalist.
“Artak Poghosyan entered the room, hit me in the face, snatched my phone and left. The situation at the police station was very tense․ The police were very jumpy; they used violence against everyone not only on the street, but also in the police car. Artak Poghosyan was walking through all the rooms. He entered the room when I was receiving calls from human rights activists and journalists, as it was strange that a journalist was detained. I was talking on the phone, he approached me, hit me and snatched my phone. He ordered that the phone be confiscated,” Ani Gevorgyan told Forrights.am, recalling the scandalous incident that took place 7 years ago.
The journalist applied to the Strasbourg court 6 years ago, in 2015, when she went through all the domestic courts and did not achieve any results.
Although a criminal case was initiated in the Special Investigation Service of Armenia (Article 164, Part 2 of the RA Criminal Code — an official using his/her official position to obstruct a journalist’s legal professional activity, and Article 309, Part 2 — abuse of power by officials, combined with violence, using weapons or special means), 1.5 years after the incident, the criminal case was terminated and the law enforcement officers decided that there were no violations by the police.
Ani Gevorgyan considers the fact of the ECHR sending inquiries to the Armenian government about the case unprecedented, as, according to the journalist, so far, no case of an abused journalist in Armenia has reached the European Court.
“They were resolved mainly in domestic courts,” the journalist said.
In an interview with Forrights.am, Sergey Grigoryan, Ani Gevorgyan’s representative at the ECHR, detailing the European Court of Human Rights’ queries, said that the Court had inquired the Armenian government about two violations of the law. According to the lawyer, some of the inquiries refer to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, others — to Article 10.
Sergey Grigoryan informed that the part of Article 3 refers to inhuman and degrading treatment of a journalist.
“The ECHR asked whether the journalist was treated inhumanely, whether the police used force, inflicted bodily injuries on Ani Gevorgyan, whether the force used by the police was proportionate and necessary. The government must present its explanations on these issues,” Sergey Grigoryan said.
The lawyer said that the Strasbourg court had asked the Armenian government questions within the Article 10 about obstructing the journalist’s professional activities.
It should be reminded that, as strange as it is, 4 years after the scandalous incident of arresting and hitting a journalist, after the Velvet Revolution, Artak Poghosyan was appointed Chief of Police of the city of Yerevan [the capital of Armenia] by the order of the then RA Chief of Police Valeri Osipyan. However, due to the uproar followed this appointment, Poghosyan was fired by the same Osipyan’s order a month later. The police presented this as another personnel change, but it is obvious that Artak Poghosyan was fired as a result of human rights activists’ and journalists’ discontentment.