European Parliament – Resolution on the violations of media freedom and the safety of journalists in Georgia

09.06.2022 - Category: Politics

In this resolution by the European Parliament in June 2022 on the violations of media freedom and the safety of journalists in Georgia concludes: 

"The media environment of Georgia, after several years of improvement, has rapidly deteriorated over the past few years and an unprecedentedly high number of violent physical attacks against journalists have occurred in Georgia since the mass violence against the Tbilisi Pride march on 5 July 2021, leading to statements of concern by several international organisations in defence of media freedom and to the significant downgrading of Georgia in the World Press Freedom Index (from a score of 71.36 and a rank of 60 out of 180 in 2021 down to a score of 59.9 and a rank of 89 out of 180 in 2022)."

"The number of verbal assaults on journalists and the number of defamation lawsuits, including those launched by government officials and individuals associated with the ruling party, against critical media representatives and companies have been increasing."

"As Transparency International Georgia has observed, the change of judicial practice puts the burden of proof on journalists, despite an unambiguous provision stating the contrary in Georgian law; whereas journalists, particularly those from media channels critical of the government, face difficulties in accessing information that should be publicly available."

"On 16 May 2022, Nika Gvaramia, director of the TV channel Mtavari, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison under Article 220 of the Criminal Code on dubious charges of money laundering, bribery and document forgery related to his past activities as director of Rustavi 2 TV, a sentence that has been widely perceived in Georgia as an attempt to silence a voice critical of the current government."

"Selective investigations and prosecutions targeting those in opposition to the current government undermine public trust not only in judicial institutions, but also in the government itself, while the repetition of similar cases against media owners linked to the opposition undermines the efforts aimed at increasing the independence of the judiciary."

"Former President Mikheil Saakashvili, whose health has been constantly deteriorating, has finally been relocated to a civilian hospital following opinions from independent doctors that his condition would not improve otherwise."

"Whereas court cases have been initiated against owners of other major critical media outlets, or their close family members, namely David Kezerashvili of Formula TV and Vakhtang Tsereteli, the founder of the independent station TV Pirveli; whereas in January 2022 Tbilisi City Court judged the founders of TBC Bank and the political party Lelo for Georgia, Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze, as well as Avtandil Tsereteli, Vakhtang Tsereteli’s father, to be guilty of fraud and sentenced them to seven years of imprisonment; whereas their sentence was however commuted, as the statute of limitations for fraud had expired."

"Georgia has been experiencing a surge in Russian disinformation and anti-EU propaganda in recent years and especially since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, targeting women, the LGBTQI+ community, human rights activists and ethnic minorities, in particular."

The full resolution can be viewed here

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