The Media Development Foundation (MDF), the Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) and the Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI) express our concern regarding recent development around the Samkhretis Karibcheedition, related to the publication exposing the head of Samtskhe-Javakheti regional police department.
According to Nino Narimanishvili, the Editor-in-Chief of Samkhretis Karibche, upon the publication of article titled "Sister of Accused: "The Head of Regional Police Department Beat Me, Tore My Clothes Off and Threatened Me With Rape" on the website of the online edition on 8 December, an employee of the Interior Ministry’s press service made called the edition several times, demanding that the title of the article be changed. Such an action constitutes the infringement on the editorial independence of a media outlet.
The author of the article, Tamuna Uchadze, said that she was contacted several times with the "advice” of intimidating nature to change the original information about the violence committed by police ("If you are detained, your friends, relatives, colleagues might stage protest rallies in your support during a month or two, but your life will be ultimately damaged”).
A watchdog function of media in a democratic society primarily means providing citizens with information necessary for freedom and self-governance. For media to perform its function of independent watchdog of government in a free and unrestricted way, journalists must have a proper conditions to conduct their professional activities without interference. Therefore,
· We call on the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to investigate the intimidation of journalist and the General Inspection of the Interior Ministry to inquire into the intimidation by a police officer as well the interference into a journalist’s activity;
· We call on the government of Georgia to ensure the safety of Samkhretis Karibchejournalists and to prevent any interference into the professional activity, which is an obligation set out in the human rights strategy and action plan of the Georgian government.
Media Development Foundation - MDF
Tolerance and Diversity Institute – TDI
Georgian Democracy Initiative - GDI