Public Defender Responds to Threatening Statements Against Pankisi Community Radio and Its Founder

The Public Defender of Georgia is responding to the rallies held against the Pankisi Community Radio and its founder in the village of Duisi on August 29 and September 5, 2020.

The video footage released in connection with the August 29 rally reflects threatening statements made by protesters against the Pankisi Community Radio and its founder, journalist Gela Mtivlishvili. In order to prevent an impending attack, on September 5, the management of the Pankisi Community Radio canceled the journalistic activities and technical work it was planning to perform in the gorge, as well as business trips.

Participants of the September 5 rally demanded from Mtivlishvili to leave the radio. Threats about the use of force against the journalist were again voiced at the rally.

The Public Defender clarifies that according to Georgian legislation, statements containing threats or incitement of violence against a person go beyond the scope of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. At the same time, the statements made at the rallies contain signs of obstruction of professionaljournalistic activity. Accordingly, the Public Defender calls on organizers and participants of the rally to observe the requirements of law.

The Public Defender emphasizes the important role of the media in covering the processes ongoing in the gorge and calls on the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to launch an investigation into the above-mentioned facts in a timely manner, as well as to assess the risks of obstruction of professionaljournalistic activity of Gela Mtivlishvili and other employees of the Pankisi Radio and to take appropriate measures to ensure a safe working environment for them.

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