NGOs Reiterate Concerns Over Nika Gvaramia’s Case

“The proceedings against [the director of “Mtavari Arkhi”], Nika Gvaramia, are politically motivated and aimed at suppressing critical voice. The case brought against [him], as a whole, undermines his right to a fair trial, has a chilling effect on freedom of expression and creates a precedent for the narrowing of free space, which has an impact on the existence of a pluralistic media environment in the country,”- local non-governmental organizations said on May 3, in the statement issued in connection with the International Day of Press Independence.

The indictment presented to Nika Gvaramia by the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not contain sufficiently clear indications of criminal responsibility, say human rights defenders. According to them, the court’s decision to sentence him to prison was unjustified, because the verdict did not answer the questions that arose at various stages of the consideration of the case. “Moreover, none of the evidence examined in the courtroom provided a basis for identifying the signs of guilt in the act”.

Human rights defenders draw attention to the assessment of the Public Defender of Georgia on the Gvaramia case, according to which the verdicts of the Tbilisi City Court and the Tbilisi Court of Appeal against Nika Gvaramia were issued “in violation of the fundamental principle of legality and the superiority of the political motive/basis is confirmed”. The undersigned organizations share this assessment”.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment in the criminal case of Nika Gvaramia is being appealed through the cassation procedure. A statement notes that despite the fact that the legally defined term is almost expiring, the consideration of Gvaramia’s cassation appeal has not yet begun and the court’s composition has not even been determined.

Human rights defenders note that the case of the director of “Mtavari Arkhi” is directly linked to the seventh of twelve priorities issued by the European Commission. The priority calls for “stronger efforts to ensure a free, professional, pluralistic, and independent media environment,” which has yet to be fulfilled.

“The U.S. State Department report emphasizes that NGOs, opposition parties, international organizations, including Amnesty International, consider the case of Nika Gvaramia to be politically motivated. According to the US Embassy, the imprisonment of Nika Gvaramia jeopardizes the clear choice of the Georgian people and the stated goal of the leaders of Georgia for a more secure, democratic, European future,” – they say, emphasizing that international non-governmental organizations point out that the arrest of Nika Gvaramia, “harms the country’s reputation”.

The undersigned organizations therefore call for:

  • The Supreme Court of Georgia to consider the ongoing criminal case against Nika Gvaramia in a timely, objective and impartial manner;
  • The President of Georgia to take a decision on pardoning Nika Gvaramia, taking into account the recommendations of the European Commission to Georgia and in accordance with the assessments of international and local organizations, as well as those of the Public Defender.
Along with others, the joint statement is also signed by: “Transparency International – Georgia”; “International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy”; “Georgian Young Lawyers Association”; “Open Society Georgia Foundation”; “Institute for Development of Freedom of Information“.

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