The Statement of Coalition for Media Advocacy Concerning the Special Statement of the Director General of Rustavi 2

7 May, 2014


7 May, 2014

On May 6, the Director General of Rustavi 2, Mr. Nika Gvaramia, and the employees of the TV channel released a special statement. Based on the information provided by the Director General, a covert audio – visual surveillance was conducted by the government in the TV Company. Nika Gvaramia and his First Deputy Nino Shubladze presented the audio and video surveillance footage, illegally recorded in their offices, to the media. According to Gvaramia, their informant obtained the video material from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, which depicted the conversations taking place in his office. 

The coalition for Media Advocacy believes that the interference in the work of any media outlet, especially through surveillance and eavesdropping, is absolutely unacceptable for a democratic society. 

The European Court consistently emphasizes the crucial role of media independence and freedom of expression in law-based states. Media is under special protection, since it provides society with information of public interest.

The investigation should be conducted in compliance with the major international and domestic standards established for Journalists’ professional activities. Protection of journalistic sources is one of the basic standards. (This standard protects the media even if it holds information about a possible crime). This standard is protected under a number of international acts and recommendations of international organizations.  It is indeed supported by the case law of international courts,  and further is protected by Georgian Legislation.  Most significantly, it is an integral part of freedom of expression.

In addition, the right of journalists not to disclose their sources of information is a right and not an obligation. Considering the existing situation, the severity of the alleged crime, a high public interest towards establishing the veracity, we believe that Rustavi 2 officials must cooperate with the investigation and encourage the process of establishing the truth. 

The reaction of the Prime Minister around the Rustavi 2 case is a cause for deep concern. High-ranking officials and representatives of the government should not make biased evaluation about the work of any media outlet. The statement of the Prime Minister about Rustavi 2, that the TV channel is ‘active’ and ‘has new ideas’,  can be considered as interference in freedom of the media. In addition, the statement of the Prime Minister may adversely affect the investigation process and its results.

The coalition for Media Advocacy calls upon the relevant authorities of the Government to ensure  the provision of the immediate and unbiased investigation of the Rustavi 2 case through protecting the vital importance of a free and independent media. 

Coalition member organizations:

Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters (GARB)
Georgian Regional Media Association
Regional TV Network
Media Club
The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics
Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)
Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association
Civic Development Institute
NGO for Civil Society
Levan Mikeladze Foundation