Parliament Suspends Accreditation of Journalists from Three Government-Critical TV Channels

Parliament has suspended the accreditation of three journalists and three cameramen from three government-critical TV channels – Mtavari Arkhi, Formula and TV Pirveli – for a period of three months.

According to a letter sent to them by the Parliament’s office reads that they had violated Paragraph 2 of Article 15 of the new accreditation rules, which states that a journalist must stop an interview if an MP, staff member or guest objects.

Journalists from TV Pirveli and Mtavari Arkhi had their accreditation suspended after they tried to get Georgian Dream MP Eliso Bolkbadze to comment on the US State Department’s sanctions against four Georgian judges. As for Formula TV, a journalist tried to get a comment from a lawmaker about Shalva Ramishvili, founder and presenter of pro-government PosTV, who has been accused of sexual harassment by several women.

NGOs react

In response to the Parliament’s decision to suspend the accreditation of three TV channels, the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics noted that the decision to suspend accreditation makes it impossible to determine what investigation was conducted into the matter and what standard the Head of the Parliament’s Office used to make the decision. The suspicion is that it is linked to the content of a particular media product.

The Charter states that “given the fact that it is practically impossible for the media to obtain public information and that representatives of the ruling party selectively give interviews to the media, such regulations make it impossible for a number of media outlets to obtain information and provide it to the public”.   

The Charter calls on the Parliament Speaker “not to allow the principles of democracy such as accountability, publicity and openness to be threatened and to rescind the order that will create formal obstacles and restrictions to the activities of the media”.

In a separate statement issued on April 7, the Media Advocacy Coalition noted that “such a decision, without the involvement of the media and taking into account their legitimate positions, is dangerous for journalists and can be used as a mechanism to limit critical questions for the media or to put pressure on editorial policy”.

The Coalition believes that in the context of the “extremely serious” media environment in the country, the Parliament’s decision restricts the possibility of expressing different opinions and asking critical questions of the ruling party. The Coalition calls on the Parliament “to immediately restore the accreditation of the TV staff and to stop establishing a new malicious practice of additional pressure on critical media”.

Public Defender reacts

The Public Defender’s Office said that the rule on the accreditation of journalists in the Parliament is “problematic” because it “does not specify the issue of appealing the decision, while the decision to suspend the accreditation of journalists does not specify the time limits and procedure for appealing it, which is a necessary requirement of the legislation”.

“Such attitudes and decisions towards media representatives prevent the reduction of polarization in the country,” the Public Defender’s Office said, calling on the Parliament Speaker “to amend the controversial rule in such a way that it does not lead to unjustified interference in the activities of media representatives. Any legal measure taken in relation to journalists should be based on the principle of equality”.

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


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