The Public Defender demands inquiry into facts of interruption of journalistic activity21 05 2012
The Public Defender of Georgia has addressed the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia with a proposal to launch an investigation into the fact of interruption of journalist activity of the journalists of the GNS Studio by employees of the Security Police of the Dusheti District Administration which took place on May 11, 2011.
According to the explanatory notes given to the Public Defender of Georgia, on May 11, 2012, Zurab Pataridze and Bela Zakaidze went to the building of the Dusheti District Administration with the aim of talking to the District Administrator. On the request of the journalist, cameraman Zurab Pataridze tried to take video shots of the Administration building from within a radius of 20-30 meters, which was followed by aggressive behavior by the employees of the Security Police. In particular, they prohibited Zurab Pataridze from taking shots, assaulted him verbally, and threatened him with physical assault. The aforementioned is confirmed by the video footage at our disposal which clearly shows the employees of the Security Police of the Dusheti District Administration preventing Zurab Pataridze and Bela Zakaidze from carrying out journalistic activity.
It should be noted that the cameraman was trying to shoot the external façade of the Administration building and the area adjacent to it, for which the Georgian legislation does not impose a special regulation and/or does not require permission.
The Pubic Defender of Georgia is also studying the fact of restriction of freedom and insult of journalist Gela Mtivlishvili, which took place on May 20. In particular, on May 20, 2012, news outlets disseminated information about the detention of the journalist of the Mtskheta-Mtianeti Information Center. Representatives of the Public Defender of Georgia visited the settlement of Tianeti to study the case where they met and took explanatory notes from a member of the Tianeti Office of the Georgian Dream political coalition, Ms. Rusudan Sisauri, and journalist Gela Mtivlishvili.
According to Gela Mtivlishvili, on May 20, at about 13:00, he was taking video shots of the police building from within a radius of 50 meters. He was approached by a person in civilian clothes who demanded that he present his documents. After Gela Mtivlishvili told him that he was a journalist of the Mtskheta-Mtianeti Information Center, he was approached by two police officers who forcibly took him into the police building and took away his camera from which they deleted the video material shot by the journalist.
According to Gela Mtivlishvili, he was assaulted both verbally and physically in the police building. The journalist also says that, in about an hour after being detained, he suffered a nervous fit, due to which the police officers called an ambulance. Later, Gela Mtivlishvili was transferred to the Tianeti hospital. According to the certificate issued by Geo Hospitals, Gela Mtivlishvili bears a bruise on the area of the crown.
It is troubling that facts of interruption of journalistic activity and insults of journalists have become frequent in the recent period. It is also unfortunate that, so far, none of such facts have been followed by appropriated response on the part of law enforcement bodies. The Public Defender of Georgia once again addresses all the relevant agencies with a proposal to take swift and effective measures with the aim of ensuring physical safety of representatives of the media and creating an appropriate environment for them to carry out their professional activity