Media Advocacy Coalition considers the Verdict of Tbilisi Court of Appeal in the July 5 case alarming - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

Media Advocacy Coalition considers the Verdict of Tbilisi Court of Appeal in the July 5 case alarming

18 January, 2023

Media Advocacy Coalition responds to the verdict [1] ruled by the Tbilisi Court of Appeal on January 16, 2023, according to which those convicted of committing organized group violence on media representatives on July 5, 2021, were acquitted, and the sentence imposed by the Court of First Instance was reduced. The verdict represents another step taken against journalists, freedom of expression, and democratic processes.

The ruling of the Tbilisi Court of Appeal referred to the facts of violence, participation in organized group violence, and inflicting damage to health against the operator of the TV Company "Pirveli" Lexo Lashkarava and journalist Miranda Bagkathuria as well as the operator of the First channel Iliko Tvaliashvili. Although the Court of Appeal found those convicted in the July 5 case guilty, the court considered all of them innocent of committing organized group violence.

It is alarming that, despite publicly available evidence, no one has been held responsible for the organization of group violence. The Public Defender of Georgia [2], Media Advocacy Coalition [3], and its member organizations [4] appealed on many occasions to the General Prosecutor's Office with the request to initiate criminal prosecution against the organizers of the July 5 group violence. Unfortunately, despite the request, state agencies are not taking appropriate steps to ensure an effective response to the facts of a large-scale attack on the media, while 56 people, including 47 journalists,[5} were injured as a result of organized violence. After the attack, 31 people were arrested, 27 of them for violence against journalists.[6]

The challenges in ensuring the safety of media representatives and effective response to crimes committed against them are highlighted, among others, in the resolution adopted by the European Parliament [7]. Media Advocacy Coalition [8] has also repeatedly underlined this problem in its statements.

The Media Advocacy Coalition once again calls on the authorities to ensure the effective protection of journalists' rights, including holding accountable the organizers and participants of the July 5, 2021 group attack on the media.

[1] Article: July 5 Pogrom: Participation in Group Violence Charge Dropped on Appeal for 6 Convicts, https://bit.ly/3QLLkDx

[2] Public Defender Demands Criminal Prosecution of Two Persons for Organizing Group Violence and Calling for Violence on July 5, https://bit.ly/3kqeKva

[3] Media Advocacy Coalition, Statement on the Large-Scale Violence against Journalists, https://bit.ly/3CTUZ5h

[4] Article: GYLA Applies to ECtHR on Behalf of July 5 2021 Victims, https://bit.ly/3iMk9vZ

[5] Article: July 5 Pogrom: Participation in Group Violence Charge Dropped on Appeal for 6 Convicts, https://bit.ly/3QLLkDx

[6] Journalists, Injured During July Homophobic Violence, Sue Police, https://bit.ly/3GMSOBL

[7] Resolution: European Parliament adopted on 9 June 2022 a resolution on "Violations of media freedom and the safety of journalists in Georgia", https://bit.ly/3GE4Ayk

[7] Media Advocacy Coalition, Statement on the Large-Scale Violence against Journalists, https://bit.ly/3CTUZ5h

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