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Media Watchdogs Want Clarity over Political Leaders’ Defamation-related Remarks

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The Coalition for Media Advocacy, a platform of ten Georgian rights watchdogs, wants more clarity over the statements of President Salome Zurabishvili and Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze that there is a need for stricter regulations for defamation and insults.

In a statement on January 13, the civil society organizations said Georgia’s existing legal framework sets “high standards for freedom of expression,” and that any legislative amendment worsening it might “endanger the country’s democratic development.”

The watchdogs stressed the authorities need to give “clear explanations” about the initiative.

On January 11, President Zurabishvili said the country needs to “start thinking” on how to deal with the increasing cases of defamation in social media. (For Zurabishvili’s earlier remarks on the issue, as well as the statement of the Orthodox Patriarch, Ilia II, click here).

Speaker Kobakhidze commented on the matter on January 12, saying the “problem of defamation and insults” in TV and social networks “is salient and noticeable for everyone.” “We need to start discussing the problem and if there are any measures that can be adopted within the limits of freedom of expression, we have to adopt them,” he noted.

Georgia decriminalized defamation in 2004. It was made subject to civil action and the burden of proof was placed on the plaintiff.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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