TI Georgia: Court Decisions Against Media a Dangerous Trend

Transparency International – Georgia responded to the Court decision to side with Mayor Kakha Kaladze and impose a GEL 15,000 (USD 5,545) fine against opposition TV Pirveli and its journalist Maia Mamulashvili, emphasizing that it represents a “new stage of the dangerous trend of pressure on the media,” “when Government officials use the Courts to harass critical media.”

Mayor Kaladze sued the channel, known for its critical views of the government, on June 20, claiming that in a broadcast on June 5, journalist Maia Mamulashvili falsely stated that “Kaladze got GEL 60 million (USD 20.7 million) only from one public procurement tender, this is an official information.” Mayor asked for GEL 100,000 (USD 34,603) in compensation, for what his lawyer Dimitri Gabunia, termed “a slanderous lie” intended to damage the Mayor’s reputation.

According to TI – Georgia, the Georgian media environment, especially the critical media, “faces vital challenges,” and in parallel with violence against journalists, mass illegal wiretapping, and deliberate disinformation, they also have to contend with Georgian Dream “misusing” the judiciary against them.

Citing statistical data, the organization noted that 28 lawsuits have been filed against three critical TV stations – Mtavari Arkhi TV, Formula TV, and TV Pirveli – in the last year, most of which have come from representatives of Georgian Dream and people close to them.

“In a short period of time, the number of lawsuits against critical media clearly indicates a coordinated trend aimed at limiting and intimidating the activities of the media,” TI – Georgia underscored.

The organization highlighted the need to change judicial practices, according to which, “unfortunately” the burden of proof rests with the journalist. According to TI – Georgia, fining Mamulashvili and not just the TV company is a continuation of this trend.

“Such a wave of pressure on critical media is a sign of kleptocratic rule when they try to silence journalists working on topics of corruption by filing defamation lawsuits against them,” the organization said.

Emphasizing that the “existing situation significantly hinders the country’s democratic development and damages Georgia’s European perspective,” TI – Georgia called on Georgian Dream to act in accordance with the country’s interests and stop using its influence to harass the media.

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


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