VIENNA, 16 July 2012 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, expressed concern today over repeated occurrences of violence against journalists in Georgia in recent weeks and called on authorities to investigate the cases thoroughly.
“Journalists should be able to work unhindered, regardless of the political affiliation of the media outlets they represent. It is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure that media workers can perform their professional duties without fear of violence, or any other form of obstruction,” Mijatović said.
On 12 July, ten reporters received injuries during a clash at a public meeting in the village of Karaleti, in the Shida Qartli region in central Georgia, where the journalists were on assignment for Info-9 news agency, television channels Metskhre Arkhi (TV9) and Trialeti, and the Shida Qartli Information Center.
A similar incident involving Info-9 and Metskhre Arkhi crews was reported to have taken place on 26 June in the village of Mereti, and Info-9 and Trialeti journalists say they have been physically and verbally harassed while reporting on issues of public interest from other parts of Shida Qartli region during the past two months.
Noting that already in May she exchanged letters with the government over other cases of violence and harassment against journalists, Mijatović said: “I am concerned by these incidents and I hope authorities will do their utmost to reverse this worrying trend.”
Mijatović also said she hoped a recent court decision ordering the sequestration of 10,000 satellite antennas imported by the Maestro television channel would not negatively impact the right of its viewers to freely receive information.