Գլխավոր դատախազ Աննա Վարդապետյանի ղեկավարությամբ խորհրդակցություն՝ Երևան քաղաքի դատախազությունում

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The RA Prosecutor’s Office Division of Public Relations, head of the Division – Arevik Khachatryan

28.04.2022 | 802 criminal cases were initiated on the grounds of serious insult, 48 cases against 51 persons were sent to court along with the indictment. Summary.

On the 30th of August, 2021 an addition to the RA Criminal Code on the criminalization of grave insult came into force. According to the new article 137.1 added to the RA Criminal Code, criminal liability is provided for profanities or insulting dignity in another extremely indecent way, for the distribution of materials containing a serious insult to a person, which is committed using information or communication technologies, or in any other public form.


<<Public activity>> referred to in the article is behavior associated with journalistic activities, public or political activities, with the performance of official duties, public service and holding a public position.


Provided for by p. 1 Article. 137.1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia, a criminal act is the subject of an investigation in the form of a private complaint, and the acts provided for by pp. 2 and 3 - in a public order, i.e. a complaint is not a prerequisite for initiating a preliminary investigation.


Taking into account the wide public interest, the RA Prosecutor General instructed the General Prosecutor's Office, to get and sum up the results of the criminal process of this type of crime.


Accordingly, after Article 137.1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia entered into force until April 1, 2022, 938 materials were prepared for serious insults, 802 of which were the subject of a criminal case, 425 of which were based on Part 1 of Art. 137.1, 377 - pp. 2 or 3 of Art. 137.1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia. 621 cases (77.5% of cases) were initiated for obscene language, and 181 (22.5%) for insults. In 21 cases, criminal cases were initiated on the basis of insults in the media, in 285 cases - in the posts and comments of users of social networks, in 497 cases - on the basis of complaints from the applicants.


The vast majority of complaints are submitted by persons who have been subjected to domestic abuse. It is noteworthy that only two cases out of the total number of initiated cases concern journalists, 38 cases concern persons involved in political activities, and 762 cases concern other persons. This circumstance refutes the prevailing opinion that the criminalization of these acts and the initiation of criminal cases on them are aimed at persecuting freedom of the press, freedom of speech or persons engaged in political activities.


During this period, 171 decisions were made to terminate the proceedings of criminal cases initiated under Art. 137.1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia.


Charges were brought against 160 persons, 131 of them for obscene language, 29 - for extremely obscene language. Among the persons involved as accused, there are no journalists, officials, in the case of 26 cases, the status of the accused is held by persons supporting political forces, in other cases - by other persons. Decisions were taken to terminate criminal prosecution in relation to 108 persons,


As of April 1, 2022, 48 criminal cases against 51 persons were sent to the court with indictments, 15 of which against 16 persons under Part 1 of Art. 137.1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia, and 33 cases against 35 persons under parts 2 and 3 of the same article. Guilty verdicts were handed down in 6 cases against 6 persons, in other cases, the trial is still in process.


The RA Prosecutor's Office considers it necessary to note that the criminalization of this act, the criminal prosecutions carried out on them are not aimed at applying new additional mechanisms to bring people to criminal liability, but to eradicate hate speech as a criminogenic factor, to relieve intra-social tension.


Based on the above-mentioned, the RA Prosecutor's Office once again calls on the public to refrain from using insults or its grave manifestations in public relations and be guided by the values of common coexistence and solidarity.