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TI Reports Up to 45 Publicized Cases of Violence, Harassment, and Intimidation Against Media in 2023

By Liza Mchedlidze
Tuesday, December 26, 2023
Transparency International - Georgia reports that in 2023, 45 cases of various types of violence, harassment, and intimidation against media representatives were publicly recorded in Tbilisi and the regions.

The organization has released the 2023 statistics on media violence and state responses, along with a request for information from the Special Investigation Service.

According to the report from the Special Investigation Service, investigations into the illegal obstruction of journalists in their professional activities were launched in 14 criminal cases from January 1, 2023, to November 30, 2023. The investigation was concluded in one case, four cases were sent to court for substantive consideration, and in nine cases, the investigation is still ongoing. Additionally, within the framework of six criminal cases, the General Prosecutor's Office launched criminal prosecutions against nine individuals.

Transparency International (TI) has identified three main categories of violence against journalists in their report: Examples of open attacks on media representatives; Threats and alleged intimidation attempts against media representatives; Violence against journalists during protests, their arrest, and fines.

"Possible crimes were committed against journalists that may not be directly related to their professional activities. However, these incidents caused fear and insecurity, and the journalists themselves perceived the context of their professional activities behind these crimes. For example:

In February, Nato Gogelia, a journalist at 'TV Pirveli,' experienced two robberies within a short period at her Ozurgeti residence.

In July, a hard drive was stolen from the car of Nodar Meladze, the head of the information service at 'TV Pirveli,' with expensive personal belongings left untouched.

Additionally, in July, journalist Vasil Dabashvili lost documents from his apartment, noting that he was being followed during the same period." TI wrote.

According to TI, attacks on journalists, threats against them, interference in their professional activities, frequent cases of intimidation, discrediting attempts, non-investigation of crimes, and impunity are among the characteristics of a kleptocratic state.

"Transparency International - Georgia emphasizes the critical importance, especially in the context of European integration and the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2024, for the ruling party to guarantee a fear-free and safe media environment where journalists can carry out their professional activities unhindered and, consequently, inform the public properly. One prerequisite for this is the timely investigation of crimes committed against journalists and the end of impunity for the perpetrators," TI wrote.