Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze says there is a problem of defamation in the country, adding discussions are necessary to introduce some measures to solve the problem.
Parliament Chair Speaks About Need of Measures Against Defamation
By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, January 14
"It is not only about defamation, but also verbal abuse that is common nowadays in the TV space and social networks. This has unfortunately become a part of the daily life which is not fitting for the Georgian culture," Kobakhidze told journalists on January 12.
The Speaker noted that the issue needs analyses and some measures, which will be in line with the freedom of expression and speech.
“The Georgian society is above all these problems…We really need to discuss the problem of verbal abuse, insult, defamation and if it is possible to adopt some regulations which will be in line with the freedom of expression and speech,” he added.
The issue of defamation and verbal insult was also raised by President Salome Zourabichvili.
During the press conference on January 11, the president said that Georgia needs anti-defamation law.
"Media has its rules and people are more protected there. But it is difficult when we are dealing with social networks. The processes there are sometimes anonymous, sometimes orchestrated by the other countries and I think it is necessary to think about this…I do not support introducing experience of other countries in this field but France has just adopted such kind of legislation," said the President.
Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II also mentioned abuse of freedom of speech in his Christmas epistle during the special Christmas liturgy held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi on January 7.
The epistle emphasized a number of issues, including risks coming from increased cases of abuse of the freedom of speech especially in social media in a form of hate speech, disinformation or defamation.
The patriarch stated people do not restrain themselves from insulting or humiliating others.
According to him, people who spread lies and slender believe only physical abuse hurts others, which is not true.
Irakli Kobakhidze thanked Ilia II for his epistle, saying it outlined main problems that the country faces nowadays.
“The Epistle addresses the problem of verbal abuse, which is one of the most important problems in our society, the problem of defamation, falsehood, and foul words, which is a serious problem,” Kobakhidze stated.
The decriminalization of defamation took place in Georgia in 2004 after a new law on "Freedom of Speech and Expression" was adopted.
Until 2004, defamation was punishable by fine from 100 to 200 hours of public work.
Decriminalization of defamation does not mean that such actions may be left unregulated. Any person can file a lawsuit and seek compensation for damages, in accordance with current legislation in Georgia, but applicant needs to have proof for that.