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Human Rights Center requests the prosecutor’s office to grant victim status to the journalists

09.09.2019

 
On June 20, 38 journalists were injured during the dispersal of the protest demonstration in Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi. The journalists of the different media organizations implemented their professional duties and cover the ongoing developments in difficult conditions. 

Before the dispersal of the protest rally, the head of the Special State Protection Service of Georgia and his allies illegally expelled the accredited journalists from the building of the Parliament and hindered them to perform their professional duties. During the dispersal of the demonstration, police officers targeted at the journalists even though it was evident that they were representatives of media and performed their duties.

HRC defends interests of four journalists injured during the dispersal of June 20 night; among them are Beslan Kmuzof (Caucasus Knot) and Merab Tsaava (Guria News), who were covering the protest demonstration. During the dispersal, they received multiple injuries in the face and needed medical assistance. 6 bullets were shot in Beslan Kmuzof, one of them in the head; rubber bullets injured the hand of Merab Tsaava and he needed surgical operation.

The Office of the Prosecutor General of Georgia interviewed the journalists as witnesses. In July, HRC petitioned the prosecutor’s office to provide information about ongoing investigation of these cases. The organization also requested to grant victim status to Beslan Kmuzof and Merab Tsaava.

The investigation should have commenced into interference in the professional activities of the journalists punishable under the Article 154 of the Criminal Code of Georgia but the Office of the Prosecutor General started the investigation for the abuse of professional power by police officers under the Article 333 Part III – “b” of the CCG. 

Human Rights Center calls on the Office of the Prosecutor General of Georgia:

- to conduct investigation over the criminal cases under the Article 154 of the CCG, which refers to the interference in the professional activities of journalists;
- to grant victim status to the journalists – Beslan Kmuzof and Merab Tsaava for the injuries they received as a result of the dispersal of June 20, 2019 protest demonstration.

Human Rights Center  

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