Freedom of Information Center of Armenia.

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Discussion on freedom of information in law enforcement bodies held in Aghhveran


A working discussion on freedom of information in law enforcement agencies has kicked off in the Armenian resort town of Aghveran upon the initiative of the Information Freedom Center.

The event organized under the funding of the US Agency of International Development (USAID) has brought together officials from the General Prosecutors Office and the police.

The journalists attending the discussion were particularly interested to know why they encounter obstacles in communicating with law enforcement officials. Arthur Davtyan, head of the Department on Crimes against Human Rights at the General Prosecutor's Office, introduced the Armenian and international legal mechanisms for obtaining information.

"If a government official works in the shadow, society will never trust him/her, be he/she the best professional" he said, stressing in the meantime the importance of information freedom.

Davtyan also spoke of restrictions on information freedom, enumerating in that context several questions, including the confidentiality of inquest.

The question sparked a heated debate between law enforcers and journalists, the latter complaining that law enforcement bodies often refuse to give them information, whereas their claims sometimes turn out unjustified.

The law enforcers, however, pointed out to some delicate moments related to inquests, saying that they did really contain elements of confidentiality. The participants proposed elaborating a special guideline specifying the grounds the refusal to provide information.
The head of Information Freedom Center, Shushan Doydodyan, said the discussion was aimed at promoting a dialogue between the government bodies and media outlets.

"Journalists always blame officials, and officials blame journalists for publishing information which they claim harmed the inquest procedures," she said, adding that the discussion would hopefully help parties to collaborate effectively in future.


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