International Organizations Call on President of Georgia to Release Nika Gvaramia

On April 20, 11 international human rights and press freedom organizations addressed Georgia’s President Salome Zurabishvili with a letter urging her to release journalist Nika Gvaramia from prison. The organizations emphasized the importance of a free and independent media in a democratic society and called on the President to take this step in order to move forward on the road to EU.

In the letter, the organizations congratulated the people of Georgia on successfully withdrawing proposed bills on “foreign agents“. They urged Georgia’s President to take another important step towards press freedom by using her authority to release journalist Nika Gvaramia from prison. They note that Nika Gvaramia, the founder and director of independent broadcaster “Mtavari Arkhi”, has been serving a 3.5-year prison sentence since May 16, 2022, on charges of alleged abuse of office during his previous role as director of another broadcaster. His conviction has been a subject of concern for several international organizations and has been criticized by the US Embassy, the Georgia’s Public Defender and local and international human rights groups for being politically motivated.

The letter reads that President Zurabishvili is seen as “committed to upholding Georgia’s global standing” who recognizes that “the retaliatory jailing of a journalist marks a worrying turning point for your country”. It also notes, that since the Committee to Protect Journalists began compiling data on imprisoned journalists in 1992, Georgia has never previously had a single journalist imprisoned. “Gvaramia’s jailing, which puts Georgia in the company of repressive, authoritarian states in post-Soviet Eurasia, is damaging to your country’s reputation”- the letter reads.

The letter highlights that the president has emphasized the Georgian people’s right to pursue European integration repeatedly. The organization point outs, that the European Commission’s June 2022 opinion on Georgia’s EU membership application included a list of 12 priorities to be met, in which the need to ensure that criminal proceedings against media owners meet the highest legal standards is included :in a clear nod to Gvaramia case”. The letter says: “Ensuring Gvaramia’s release from prison would represent a significant step towards fulfilling Georgia’s European aspirations”.

The list of organizations addressing the President:

  • Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Article 19
  • Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Justice for Journalists Foundation
  • Index on Censorship
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • PEN International
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

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


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