Statement regarding the criminal case of Nika Gvaramia

17 Jun, 2022

To the President of Georgia
Salome Zurabishvili

Madame President,

The member organizations of the Media Advocacy Coalition appeal to you to consider and positively resolve the issue of pardoning NikaGvaramia, General Director of Mtavari Arkhi, as the arrest of the Founder and General Director of Mtavari Arkhi, a broadcasting channel which expresses critical attitudes towards the government, poses a real threat to our country. Fair Criticism with regards to Nika Gvaramia’s Detention has also been incorporated in The European Parliament resolution of 8 June 2022 “on the Freedom of the Media and the Violation of the Safety of Journalists” calling on the Georgian authorities to adhere to the highest standards of democracy, including the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, fair and legitimate judicial process and other fundamental freedoms, including in the area of media freedom.

We are glad that you expressed your concerns on June 14, 2022 regarding the shortcomings of European integration in connection to the untimely arrest of Nika Gvaramia and the most severe form of punishment that followed. However, please note that the verdict against Nika Gvaramiacontains significant irregularities with regards to the contents of the crime as well as the size of the sentence. This conclusion is based on the assessments prepared by the Public Defender of Georgia [1], Transparency International Georgia [2] and the Georgian Young Lawyers Association [3]. It is also noteworthy that a number of domestic and international actors consider Nika Gvaramia’s arrest to be politically motivated [4].

As you know, the practice of pardoning is a historical component of the power package of heads of state. Article 53 (2) (g) of the Constitution of Georgia considers pardon to be the exclusive competence of the President of Georgia. Beyond the functions assigned to the mechanism of checks and balances, several traditional purposes of the pardon instrument are considered in the doctrine of law. These include consolidating the nation and protecting the interests of the state.

Your statement on the consolidation of the nation and the protection of the interests of the state is a special offer in the context of political
polarization. The fact that Georgia’s accession to the European Union is a stated desire of our people gives the President of Georgia the opportunity to take all measures within her authority to ensure Georgia’s full integration into the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

We appeal to you, as the Head of State of Georgia, to pardon Nika Gvaramia and by doing so fulfill your crucial role in easing the current political crisis in the country as well as in  the process of Georgia’s integration
into the European Union.

1] Report of the Public Defender of Georgia – and [2] Conclusion of the Transparency International Georgia – and [3] Conclusion of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association – [4] Article: Draft European Parliament resolution calls for NikaGvaramia’s release

Signatory organizations

1. Institute for Development of Freedom of Information
2. Liberal Academy Tbilisi
3. Media Club
4. Media Development Fund
5. Media Ombudsman
6. Alliance of Regional Broadcasters
7. TV network
8. Transparency International – Georgia
9. International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy
10. Georgian Regional Media Association
11. Georgian Association of Small and Medium Telecommunication Operators
12. Charter of Journalistic Ethics of Georgia
13. Open Society Georgia Foundation