‘NOBODY PUNISHED FOR OFFENDING JOURNALISTS’
10 May, 2012
‘NOBODY PUNISHED FOR OFFENDING JOURNALISTS’

Latest data of ‘Freedom House’ are logical

On May 3, in connection with the World Media Day, USAID and IREX held a round table –‘Freedom of press and elections in Georgia. The NGO and International Organizations’ representatives participating in the event discussed the problems that are artificially created by State structures; quite often the journalists are in vain trying to overcome them. 

 

Eka Popkhadze, executive director of Young Journalists’ Association:

– Information is the main weapon for journalists and they must obtain it

right away in order to timely prepare the story or article about a topical event. Very often the journalists get the information when it is interesting for nobody.

Q. – What is the state organizations’ excuse when they deny giving out the public information?

E.P. – Nobody says anything but I think the reason is that sometimes it’s sensitive-for-authorities’ information. It can be about ineffective spending of state sums, bonuses for functionaries, travel expenses of MPs, details connected with tenders, financing of public concerts. For instance, journalists requested information about the expenses of Sting’s and Bocelli’s concerts but they couldn’t get answer. They tried to defend their rights at court but Georgian courts always approve of such organs’ refusal considering that such information is personal. We categorically declare that the sum allocated from the state budget for bonuses, business trips and public concerts can by no means be secret information. Preventing the journalists from carrying out professional duties and inadequate reaction of law-enforcers is to be noted as well. For instance, regional journalists were not allowed to obtain exhaustive information about the recently disclosed case of Controls Chamber. They were forbidden to enter the building where interrogations were held. When they addressed the state structures and attempted to collect information, their application wasn’t accepted.

MIA spread a declaration that in connection with May 26 events several employees were sacked and some were reprimanded, whereas violence against journalist executed on May 26isn’t a disciplinary offence, it’s a criminal case because in the criminal code there is a special provision regarding hampering of journalistic activity. Nobody was punished for offending the journalists.

The latest data of ‘Freedom House’ are logical. The Young Lawyers’ Association is preparing a report about the events pertaining to Controls Chamber in which one chapter will unite media problems. The same was the case in the report with regard to May 26 events that was given to International organizations but the degree of media freedom shows no signs of improvement yet.

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