CSOs React to Appeal Courts’ Ruling to Uphold Gvaramia’s ‘Politically Motivated’ Sentence

8 civil society organizations have released a statement responding to the Tbilisi Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold imprisoned Mtavari Arkhi TV chief Nika Gvaramia’s sentence today by reiterating that the case is “politically motivated” and “aims to punish Nika Gvaramia and disrupt the activities of a critical media outlet.”

TI – Georgia, the Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI), Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF), Human Rights Center, Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC), Society and Banks, Media Development Foundation (MDF), and the Atlantic Council of Georgia (ACG) were the signatories of the statement.

The CSOs highlighted the fact that the Public Defender’s Office, Human Rights Center, and Transparency International – Georgia all submitted analytical documents to the court which “indicated that the charges were ungrounded.” “According to the opinions, even a harmful decision made by a director of an enterprise cannot attract criminal liability, but may only in exceptional cases result in corporate legal liability,” they noted.

They further pointed out that the Public Defender, TI – Georgia, and the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) also studied the Tbilisi City Court’s original ruling on Gvaramia, “after which a number of flaws regarding the principle of legality and substantiation were identified.”

The organizations underscored that the “flawed administration of justice significantly affects and degrades the existing media environment and standards of protection of human rights and freedoms in general, further deepens the polarization in the country, as well as contradicts the spirit of the EU’s 12-point requirements and fails to ensure stable democratic development.”

In that context, they stated that the actions of the so-called ‘judicial clan’ have “significantly damaged” the efforts made by international partners to strengthen the judicial system.

Pointing out that politically motivated cases are one of the “indicators of challenges to judicial independence,” the CSOs lamented that such cases “cast a shadow on the judiciary, including impartial judges.”

The organizations concluded by asserting that future spending of partners’ resources on judges “who in the past have violated human rights, won’t have a positive impact on the development of the judiciary.”

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