Tbilisi City Court Partially Satisfies Defamation Claim Against “TV Pirveli”

On May 10, the non-governmental organization “Georgian Democracy Initiative” reported that Tbilisi City Court partially satisfied Davit Patsatsia’s claim against the TV company “TV Pirveli,” ordering the defendant to pay 15,000 GEL in moral damages.

The organization notes, that Davit Patsatsia, the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and also the son-in-law of Irakli Kobakhidze, filed the lawsuit to dispute media statements that linked him to the State Audit Service’s findings on violations and improper spending of funds during repair and restoration work in IDP settlement facilities. Representatives of the defendant argued that the statements in question were based on the findings of the State Audit, and that Davit Patsatsia was identified as the head of the ministry responsible for addressing the audit’s recommendations.

The Georgian Democracy Initiative reports that initially, Davit Patsatsia demanded a compensation of 1 GEL from the defendant TV company, but later increased it to 30,000 GEL, coinciding with similar claims by Kakha Kaladze and Ucha Mamatsashvili. These cases resulted in moral damages being imposed on the defendants. Patsatsia openly admitted in court that he intended to use the lawsuit as a punitive measure against the media and journalists for their statements. Despite the defendant’s argument, the court found Patsatsia’s claims of defamation to be valid and did not consider his use of the lawsuit as a punitive measure.

The Georgian Democracy Initiative expresses concern over the amount of compensation for moral damages imposed in the case, which they consider unreasonably high given the actual harm caused to the Minister. The organization notes that “the imposition of GEL 15,000 on the media in the case of such defamation, when on the other side is a person with a high political position and the information disseminated relates to the exercise of public functions, does not correspond to the practice established so far at the national or European level,” and adds that it creates a “chilling effect” that reinforces the fear in society that criticizing the government may result in legal consequences.

The organization also highlights that criticism of the government and influential figures associated with it has frequently led to legal disputes. This trend is reflective of the abuse of the lawsuit mechanism to intimidate civil society and illegally limit freedom of speech and expression through so-called SLAPP lawsuits. “Taking into account the tendency of government officials to file unfounded lawsuits, the above-mentioned decision creates a particularly dangerous precedent, as it is expected that the number of cases in which public figures make freedom of speech and expression an object of justice will increase, which will essentially impede the activities of media representatives and create a “chilling effect” on freedom of speech and expression.” – states the organization.

Also read:

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


Back to top button