(Civil.Ge) — Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, expressed concern on July 16 over “repeated occurrences of violence against journalists in Georgia in recent weeks” and called on the Georgian authorities to investigate the cases thoroughly.
“Journalists should be able to work unhindered, regardless of the political affiliation of the media outlets they represent. It is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure that media workers can perform their professional duties without fear of violence, or any other form of obstruction,” Mijatović said in a statement.
Among over dozen of people injured during a clash between activists of Bidzina Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream opposition coalition and supporters of the authorities in the village of Karaleti on July 12, ten were journalists. Among them were journalists from Channel 9, a television station owned by Ivanishvili and its news agency Info-9, as well as reporters from Gori-based Trialeti TV in which Channel 9 owns shares and news agency Shida Kartli Information Center. There have been other cases too when journalists from these media outlets were reporting about harassment, including during the fist-fight incident in the village of Mereti on June 26. Six people were arrested in connection to the incident in Karaleti and jailed for 15 days; one of them was arrested for assaulting a journalist.
In May the OSCE representative for freedom of media exchanged letters with the Georgian government over other cases of violence and harassment against journalists.
“I am concerned by these incidents and I hope authorities will do their utmost to reverse this worrying trend,” she said in the statement.
In the statement she also raises the issue of impounding of about 10,000 satellite dish antennas, imported by the Tbilisi-based Maestro TV and expressed hope that this decision by the authorities would not negatively impact the right of viewers to freely receive information.