Statement of the Coalition for Media Advocacy on the Attack Against Tabula Journalists

15 Jan, 2016

January 14, 2016

Coalition for Media Advocacy releases the statement about attacks conducted against Tabula Journalists, which reads:

“According to media reports, Tabula Journalists and one former journalist (Irakli Kiknavelidze, Levan Sutidze, Nino Macharashvili and Avto Koridze) have been attacked by several individuals who abused them physically and verbally and damaged the restaurant’s inventory. Representatives of Tabula said that the incident took place on January 12, 2016, at the restaurant “Chashnagiri” located on K. Apkhazi Street, in Tbilisi.

Irakli Kiknavelidze said that the attackers mentioned swearing of Church by the Tabula Journalists as their motivation. One of the gusts of the restaurant shoot a short video, which shows a certain turmoil inside the restaurant. According to the applicant, the journalists appealed to the police to investigate the case. MIA stated that the investigation was launched under the article 125 of the Criminal Code, which includes beating crime. However, the circumstances implicated by the applicant makes the basis for qualifying the case under Article 239 of the Criminal Code, which includes crime of hooliganism. Also it should be noted that on January 13, the representative of Tablua applied to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and found out that there was no any progress in the investigation process. Till now it remains unclear if the witnesses have been questioned or whether other necessary investigative actions have been implemented. The statement of the Vice-Speaker of the Parliament Manana Kobakhidze is unacceptable. In this statement she denies the possible crime of illegal interference in the professional activities of the Journalists, which is considered under the Article 154 of the Criminal Code. As noted, victims indicated that the motive for the attack was the activities of Tabula.  Accordingly, there is a reasonable doubt that the attack was directed against their journalistic activities.

The coalition also notes that unfortunately, this is not the only similar case and that law enforcement officials often do not respond to crimes committed against journalists. The MIA has not released any information on progress of the investigation of the cases related to the violent acts against media representatives and prosecution of offenders. Protection of the safety of the journalists, fight against impunity for crimes against journalists and creation of independent and free working environment for journalists is the obligation of the state, which derives from not only the National legislation, but the regulation of numerous international treaties (UN, Council of Europe, the OSCE, EU and other international organizations standards and recommendations).

Therefore, the coalition calls on the law enforcement agencies to carry out a prompt, thorough, effective and impartial investigation of this particular incident and all other incidents conducted against media representatives. The Coalition also considers that timely detection and punishment of offenders is also of great importance in order to prevent similar incidents in the future. We call on all high-ranking officials to express their opinions only after proper assessment of the facts and do not exert a negative influence on the objectiveness and effectiveness of the investigation.

The coalition will actively investigate the incident and provide information to the public”, – said in the statement.

Members of the Coalition for Media Advocacy are: