Public Defender Files Amicus Curiae Brief relating to Aiisa Case
On 23 May 2018, the Public Defender of Georgia filed an amicus curiae brief with Tbilisi Court of Appeals relating to the case of Ltd Aiisa. The document deals with the scope of freedom of expression and the standards of its lawful restriction that can assist the court in proper consideration of the case.
On May 4, 2018, Tbilisi City Court fined Ani Gachechiladze, the founder of Aiisa, a company producing condoms, GEL 500. The inscriptions and images on the product were regarded as an unethical ad, which used abusive words and comparisons in relation to a religion and violated the universally recognized human and moral standards, religious symbols, national and historical treasures, monuments. The court also prohibited the violator to release/place certain ads placed on the product and ordered her to remove the released/placed unethical ads from the Georgian commodity market.
The present case is particularly important since it is related to the scope of restriction of freedom of expression - one of the fundamental human rights. Consequently, the explanations made by the court relating to such cases can play an important role in the formation of uniform practice. Taking into consideration this, in the amicus curiae brief, the Public Defender focused on the approach of the European Court of Human Rights, which states that when discussing the legitimacy of prohibiting the use of images closely related to the religion in ads or imposing a fine for the mentioned, it is important to check the necessity for applying such restrictions of freedom of expression in a democratic society. In addition, such assessment should not be based on declaratory and vague statements but should be properly substantiated.
According to the Public Defender, it is important the Court of Appeals to focus on the circumstance that freedom of expression protects not only information and ideas that are shared by the public or are inoffensive or are responded by indifferent attitude, but also those that are offensive, shocking and bothering for any group of the state or community. Consequently, the Public Defender calls on the Court to take into account the criteria established by the Constitutional Court of Georgia and the European Court of Human Rights when considering imposition of restrictions on freedom of expression.