The Public Defender’s Office of Georgia released a critical statement today regarding the Government’s continued ban on TV journalist Telara Gelantia which called on authorities to ensure “unhindered access to information for media representatives, [and] to give journalists the opportunity to attend government meetings and ask their desired questions in compliance with the principle of equality.”
Gelantia was first denied access on 12 September on the grounds that she was “breaking the rules,” and “asking a lot of questions that disturb other colleagues.” Gelantia claimed at the time that she had “reasonable doubt” that the recent critical report she authored about the lack of transparency in government decisions was the reason for blacklisting her.
The Public Defender’s Office highlighted that the ban on Gelantia marks a recent trend of government agencies denying access to critical media representatives to briefings and events and added that the practice is “contrary to the principle of equality.”
The Office underscored the “special function” of the media for informing the public and the essential role of the critical press in the “process of self-determination of society and the formation of a democratic state.”
“The Public Defender considers the facts of preventing journalists from carrying out their professional activities as an alarming trend and believes that this poses a threat to the media pluralism in the country and has a negative impact on the country’s democratic processes,” the statement stressed.
The Public Defender’s Office concluded that it will continue to monitor Gelantia’s case as well as the current situation regarding the press.