On May 6, CEO of Rustavi 2, Nika Gvaramia and the employees of the TV channel issued the statement. According to the CEO, the channel was under the video and audio surveillance. Nika Gvaramia presented the surveillance footage, recorded in the offices of Gvaramia and the Deputy CEO Nino Shubladze, to the media. Citing the source from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Gvaramia stated that the video recordings depicted the conversations taking place in his office.
Media Advocacy Coalition believes that creating the barriers to the work of the media outlets, moreover, through secret surveillance and eavesdropping, is absolutely unacceptable for the democratic society.
European Court constantly emphasizes the decisive role of media independence and freedom of speech in rule-of-law-based state. Media is under the special protection, since it provides the society with the information of public interest.
It is crucial to ensure that the investigation is carried out in compliance with the international and domestic standards. One of the basic standards is the right of the journalist to keep the source of the information secret (this standard protects media even if the journalist has information about the crime). This standard is protected by number of international acts and the recommendations of international organizations, it is supported by the case law of the international courts; it is protected by the Georgian legislation and represents one of the major parts of freedom.
In addition, right of the journalist to keep the source secret is his/her right and not an obligation. Considering the 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 causes the concern. The high official of the country, representative of the government, should not allow himself making biased evaluations towards the work of the media outlet. The comment of the Prime Minister about Rustavi 2, that the TV channel is ‘active’ and ‘has new ideas’ can be considered as the interference in freedom of media. In addition, the statement of the Prime Minister can have negative influence on the process of investigation and its results.
Media Advocacy Coalition calls on the relevant authorities to provide the immediate and unbiased investigation of the Rustavi 2 case.
Media Advocacy Coalition is made up of the following organizations:
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