The Court Ruling Threatens the Protection of the Source of TV “Pirveli’ Journalist
Transparency International Georgia considers the ruling of the Tbilisi City Court as a dangerous precedent as it allows the Prosecutor's Office to seize the material provided by a confidential source after showing the secret recording in the program of “Nodar Meladze's Saturday” on TV “Pirveli.” This ruling contradicts the guarantees of freedom of expression and confidentiality of the source established by the Georgian and international law, poses a serious threat to the media activities in the country, and raises suspicions of the abuse of the law enforcement and judicial system against the media for narrow political interests.
After reviewing the published court ruling, it becomes clear that the ruling fails to meet the criteria of substantiation. The Law on “Freedom of Speech and Expression” ensures the media with the absolute privilege protection for not revealing the journalistic source. Moreover, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, a journalist has no obligation to testify in connection with his/her professional activities, as well as to transfer any related subjects.
According to the standards established by the European Court of Human Rights (Cases: Nagla v. Latvia, Martin and Others v. France) it is prohibited to search or seizure the media if the purpose of the investigative body is only the identification of the source. The permission to seize the envelope handed over to TV “Pirveli” by the confidential source as mentioned in the court ruling clearly indicates the fact that the intention of the investigating authority is to identify the source.
We call on the authorities to act in accordance with the law. The authorities should recognize the serious risks arising from the court ruling and its possible enforcement that threatens the freedom of expression in the country. It is necessary that the authorities stop using the judiciary and law enforcement agencies against the critical media and ensure a healthy media environment in the country.