The European Commission Against Racism and
Intolerance (ECRI) released its fifth monitoring cycle report on March 1 and it
covers the situation from 2012 through June 17, 2015. In the part related to
hate speech, ECRI cites a report from the Media Development Foundation and
offers a set of recommendations.
The report focuses on the problems of signing budget
contracts with several media outlets with xenophobic and homophobic attitudes,
as well as on intolerant comments made by some high ranking politicians.
"During 2013-14, according to information obtained
by MDF, Obiektivi received at least USD 25 000 and the newspapers Alia and
Kviris Chronika together around USD 20 000, from government ministries and
agencies as part of advertisement contracts and other agreements”,
reads the report and offers the following recommendation:
recommends that the authorities review their contracts with media outlets and
cancel or not renew them in cases where media are known to engage in racist or
homo-/transphobic hate speech. The authorities should also ensure that future
contracts contain a clause stipulating that racist or homo- /transphobic hate
speech will result in contract termination. (33).
Citing MDF monitoring, the report focuses on
xenophobic comments made by media union Obiektivi, newspapers Alia and Kviris
Kronika, as well as on the following problematic tendencies:
hate speech is also growing… Such mistrust is expressed, for example, when
Adjara’s Muslims are portrayed as Turkish agents. In January 2015, the
weekly magazine Kviris Chronika wrote: "[the former President] gave
Georgian passports to about 10,000 foreign Muslims, and turned Adjara,
already facing the danger of Turkization, into a Turkish share. Islamic
State in Syria ..." (30).
TV has long pursued an anti-Turkish editorial policy, visible in its talk
shows through comments made by presenters and the choice of guests.
It also led a campaign against a new mosque in Batumi. Irma Inashvili,
founder of Obiektivi and leader of the Alliance of Patriots party, stated:
"First and foremost, they realise that threat which the construction of a
new mosque, or to be more precise, erecting a symbol of might of Turkey in
the center of Batumi can cause”(30).
- Hate speech
also affects other religious minorities. After the government’s decision
to provide compensatory funding to Muslims, Armenian Apostolics, Catholics
and Jews, an Obiektivi presenter commented: "Let us finance the
Satanists too then".
On the occasion of an international festival organised by the
Christian-Evangelical Church in Tbilisi in 2014, the Alia newspaper wrote:
"This is a usual anti-Christian heretical gathering and no one should attend
The report focuses on intolerant comments made by
the following high ranking politicians:
- Citing the
statement made Civil Platform "No to Phobia!”, the report notes that there
have been allegations that Justice Minister, Tea Tsulukiani, spoke with
xenophobic connotations about citizens of China, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt. The
report also provides an explanation by Justice Minister, who said that her
words have been incorrectly interpreted, as well as the Justice Ministry’s
statement in response to the Iranian Embassy’s criticism (26).
- In terms of anti-Black
racism and xenophobia, Tamaz Avdaliani, former deputy chairman of the
Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, stated that there should be different
criteria for acquiring Georgian citizenship for Africans "given that we are
developing, we don’t really need extra spongers.”
- Davit Darakhvelidze
(Georgian Dream; then nominated as Minister of IDPs from the Occupied
Territories, Accommodation and Refugees), made racist remarks, saying "every
negro you meet in Tbilisi is a citizen, Indian and Chinese as well”, and
"Georgia must be for Georgians.” According to the report, he was subsequently
appointed as minister, in spite of protests from civil society (26).
- On 24 April
2012, during a discussion about commemorating the Armenian genocide, Azer
Suleymanov, MP for the then-ruling United National Movement, made racist
remarks about Armenians in a parliamentary debate (27).
- In 2011,
the former Minister for Conflict Resolution, Goga Khaindrava, in line with
an article published in Asaval-Dasavali, in which the government was
portrayed as "Armenian lobbyists”, spoke with a negative attitude about
the ethnic origin of leading MPs. The newspaper is itself well known for
its inflammatory rhetoric (27).
- In July
2010, then President Mikheil Saakashvili, made a racist remark about Black
people during a discussion with the Ministry of Finance: "Then are we
Negroes or what? Explain to me why are we acting like savages?” During a
speech one year earlier, he had asked the rhetorical question: "Are we
Papuans, why do we behave like this?”(28)
/ transphobic hate speech
The report separately focuses on homo-/transphobic
monitoring project in 2014 registered the highest number of cases in the area
of anti-LGBT hate speech, with 41 incidents during the three months’ period.
The most senior political figure engaging in such hate speech was then-
minister Davit Darakhvelidze, who stated that "homosexuals are diseased
people”. Shalva Natelashvili, Labour Party, portrayed homosexuality and
transsexuality as a contagious disease. Because of the inclusion of sexual
orientation, Asaval-Dasavali Magazine referred to the new anti-discrimination
law as "the pederasts’ law".
To settle the problem of hate speech, ECRI offers to
create an efficient monitoring mechanism, which will have a permanent nature.
- Hate speech against ethnic and religious
minorities continues to be a widespread problem in Georgia and these groups are
still often viewed mainly through a security lens (25), the report reads.
ECRI recommends that the Georgian authorities
establish an effective monitoring system for racist and homo-/transphobic hate
speech. They should build on the expertise of the Public Defender and relevant
ECRI report in Georgian is available
at the following link: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/Country-by-country/Georgia/GEO-CbC-V-2016-002-GEO.pdf
The English version is available
received from MDF
Inashvili, in: Obiektivi, Night Studio 15.04.2013, quoted in: MDF 2013: 30.
Chachibaia, in: Obiektivi, Night Studio 24.02.2014.
Asanidze, in: Alia newspaper 28.05.2014, quoted in: MDF/GDI 2014(c): 6.
newspaper 12.03.2014, quoted in: MDF 2014(a): 17.