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Appeal of the Human Rights Center regarding the Violent Facts Evident in the Pre-election Period

01.10.2020

 
The Human Rights Center is concerned about the violent incidents evident in the run-up to the 2020 Parliamentary Elections harming a peaceful and fair electoral environment. Of particular concern are the facts of assault on journalists in the course of their professional activities.

HRC appeals to the investigative authorities to promptly investigate the violent acts committed against some journalists taking place during the confrontation between the members of Georgian Dream and United National Movement on September 27, 2020 in Bolnisi and on October 29, 2020 in Marneuli. Only in such way it would be possible to prevent similar facts, so that the representatives and activists of political parties could lead the activities in a peaceful pre-election environment, and journalists have the possibilities to carry on reporting under safe working conditions. 

According to the information disseminated, on September 27, 2020, in Bolnisi, the supporters of the United National Movement and their majoritarian candidate, Kakha Okriashvili was attacked by supporters and a brother of Gogi Meshveliani, the majoritarian candidate of the Georgian Dream. On the other hand, representatives of Georgian Dream state that the conflict escalated into a physical confrontation as a result of provocative actions and violent acts on the part of United National Movement as they attacked activists with batons and stones and as a result several injured individuals were brought to a hospital. Further, a driver of one of the vehicles moving in the convoy in support of United National Movement claims that his car was damaged as they buzzed a stone on it. 

On October 29, 2020, 2 journalists and 2 cameramen of Mtavari Arkhi (a TV company), and a cameraman of the Public Broadcaster were physically assaulted in Marneuli. The head of the journalist of Mtavari Arkhi was broken. Moreover, the equipments of both broadcasters are damaged.

Additional problem stems from the fact that the reports about the incidents are covered and conveyed to the public differently by various TV companies as rarely a TV covers the incident in a balanced manner thus contributing even more to the polarization of the society. It is important that TV companies comply with the requirements of the Law on Broadcasting and cover all facts and positions in the news programs in a balanced, non-discriminatory and pluralistic manner. 

HRC appeals to:

the government and investigative authorities:
  • To efficiently investigate in due time the facts of pressure and threats exerted on the representatives, activists and supporters of political parties, and also the facts of interference with the campaigns of political parties.  
  • To efficiently and promptly investigate the facts of violence exerted on the journalists and the facts of interference with the activities of journalists. 
Political parties: 
  • Not to allow any kind of pressure, threats and violence against the candidates and supporters of the opponent political parties;

  • To carry out the pre-election campaigns and related activities in a peaceful manner within the norms provided for by the law; 

Media: 
  • To conscientiously fulfill the responsibilities undertaken before the public and ensure to the maximum extent the balanced coverage of all the facts and positions in the news in a non-discriminatory and pluralistic manner.  
  • In reporting the facts, to refrain from arbitrarily manipulating the information as this would be even more significant when the environment of Georgian media is extremely polarized and part of the TV companies work in favor of some of the political forces, which is clearly evident through the editorial policies of the TV companies.

Human Rights Center

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