Another gross violation of journalists’ rights and interference in professional activities
Transparency International Georgia is alarmed by the facts of physical injuries sustained by media representatives and interference with the journalists' professional activities during the protest rally near the building of the Central Election Commission on November 8, 2020. We call on the Government to ensure proper conditions for the professional activities of journalists in the country and to bring to justice those who were responsible for the aforementioned offenses.
During the dispersal of the rally near the building of the Central Election Commission on November 8, the police committed a gross violation of the constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and association. In violation of the rules established by the law, the police used disproportionate force to disperse the protest. This is further exacerbated by the fact of unlawful interference with the journalists' professional activities, inflicting physical injuries, and damage to their equipment. The statement released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs reads that three representatives of the media were injured, however, the number of injured journalists is higher according to media reports:
- TV Pirveli’s cameraman, Papuna Khachidze, was injured in the eye by the water cannon. He underwent surgery the same night.
- Formula TV’s cameraman, Nika Matiashvili, sustained injuries by the water cannon. He had to be transferred to the hospital.
- Netgazeti’s journalist, Sopho Apriamashvili, was injured in the eye by the water cannon.
- Formula TV’s cameraman, Giorgi Japaridze, was drenched by the water cannon and lost consciousness after continuing to work in this state. The ambulance transferred him to the hospital.
- Formula TV’s News Department journalist, Ana Baratashvili, was thrown out by the minibus by the water cannon blast. As a result, she sustained injuries to her body.
- Four journalists of Radio Liberty’s recording crew were injured.
- Rustavi 2’s journalist sustained minor injuries.
- JRC’s journalist, Giga Abuladze, sustained injuries by the water cannon. According to him, he has a sensation of burning and tearing in his eyes.
Furthermore, a representative of the opposition verbally insulted the journalists of Public Broadcaster and TV Imedi. According to Imedi, one of the participants of the rally physically assaulted their journalist.
A number of cameras were damaged during the dispersal of the rally, namely six cameras of TV Pirveli five of Mtavari Arkhi, two of Rustavi 2 TV and one of Radio Liberty. The personal photo camera of OC Media’s founder, which was being used to cover the protest, was also damaged, together with a mobile phone belonging to a journalist of Guria News who was live-streaming the protest.
This is not the first case of physical injuries or unlawful interference in the professional activities of journalistს during the demonstration. It is worth mentioning the dispersal of the so-called “Gavrilov’s Night” rally when 40 media representatives were injured, some severely. However, the Government has not made an adequate response in these cases. This sort of inaction encourages violence against journalists and creates a sense of impunity in the country.
Transparency International Georgia calls on the Government to immediately respond to the instances of violations of journalists’ rights. It is important to hold the respective persons accountable, to compensate the damages incurred by the media representatives and to ensure proper conditions for the professional activities of journalists.