Fines, prison sentences reduced for violations during Armenian state of emergency
Violators of quarantine or self-isolation rules during the state of emergency in Armenia may now be subject to a fine, or even a prison sentence, after parliament approved a package of amendments to the criminal and administrative codes on March 23.
Details below on what changes were made and what punishments will be imposed.
In the first reading, the deputies were in a hurry to close the Friday meeting before 23:00, as regulations require, and so they approved the amendments proposed by the government.
In the original proposal, violation of quarantine or self-isolation requirements in a state of emergency would result in a fine of 300-500 times the minimum wage, which amounts to an equivalent of about 600 to a thousand dollars.
The bill also indicated that for a violation that would result in “mass illness of people through negligence,” an arrest of up to three months or imprisonment of up to five years could be imposed, depending on how many people are affected and the extent of their suffering.
Restrictions on media publications and social media also garnered discussion. The fact is that according to the current requirements during a state of emergency in Armenia, the media is only allowed to publish information about the coronavirus epidemic that has been released by official sources. The government explains that this is necessary to avoid any aggression towards coronavirus patients or panic among the population.
Journalists and editors criticized this decision, as there is no precise definition of which messages cause panic and which do not. However, violators are subject to a fine of 30-500 times the minimum wage, which is equivalent to about 60 to 1000 dollars.
Final version of the amendments
By the second reading, significant changes had been made to the amendment package.
– The fine for violating quarantine or self-isolation during a state of emergency was reduced. Now it is 100-250 drams (about $200-500).
– A larger fine will be imposed if the citizen infects others. In this case, violators are liable to pay 300-500 thousand drams (approximately $ 600- $ 1000) or spend a month in detention.
– For infecting two or more citizens or causing grievous bodily harm to their health, the fine will be 500-700 thousand drams ($ 1000- $ 1400), detention for a period of 1-3 months, or imprisonment for up to two years.
– A more severe punishment will be imposed if the violation leads to the death of another. In this case, the offender may be sentenced to 2 to 4 years in jail.
– The fines for posts on social media that had been in the original bill were removed.
– Other changes were made to the paragraph concerning the media. The term “media” was replaced by the wording “organization that carries out journalistic activities”. This decision was made in order to include electronic publications that are not considered part of the press.
– The maximum fine for publications considered to have violated the restrictions during a state of emergency was reduced to 300 thousand drams (approximately $ 600). – But a new paragraph was added, according to which a refusal to delete prohibited information within 24 hours will result in a larger fine of 500-1000 times the minimum wage ($ 1000-2000).