Statement Regarding a Fact of Interference into Professional Activity of Journalist Irakli Gedenidze

The Public Defender comments on a fact of interference into professional activity and physical assault of photojournalist of the News Agency InterpressNews Irakli Gedenidze while the latter reported on the ongoing rally at the Rose Revolution Square on March 4, 2015.

According to information reported in media sources, photo journalist Irakli Gedenidze who was engaged in his professional activity and reported on the rally that was under way at the Rose Square was physically attacked by a participant of the rally who had just got out of one of the vehicles and broke his camera. As disseminated video materials confirm, another individual was also actively involved in the incident.

In his conversation with a representative of the Public Defender Irakli Gedenidze noted that the person from the car demanded to erase materials caught on the camera. The demand was refused to comply with by Gedenidze. The latter also explained that he was a journalist and was exercising his professional activity. After this the journalist was physically assaulted. According to Gedenidze, another rally participant who is also present in the disseminated video materials, was restraining him and preventing from either exercising self-defense actions or getting away.

As the information placed on the official webpage of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia shows, one individual was detained with charges of illegal interference into professional activity of a journalist and damaging or destruction of an object (offense defined under the part 2 of the article 154 and the part 1 of the article 188 of the Criminal Code Of Georgia) and investigation is under way.

The Public Defender denounces the fact of interference into professional activity of journalist Irakli Gedenidze, actions of violence carried out towards him and calls on law enforcement bodies to carry out relevant measures for the purpose of identification of all individuals involved in the incident and exercising adequate sanctions against them stipulated in the legislation.

The Criminal Code of Georgia defines high standards towards professional activity of journalists and envisages an offense such as interference into professional activity of journalists. The Public Defender welcomes a fact of conduction of investigation under articles of the Criminal Code of Georgia and hopes that the investigation will be conducted in the prompt and reasonable timeframe.

Additionally, with the view of avoiding such incidents in the future it is important for the law enforcement agencies to take every lawful measure for prevention of similar actions during organized rallies and namely, to ensure unhindered conduction of professional activity by journalists.

In addition to the above, the Public Defender of Georgia calls on political parties in charge of organizing of the rally to explain professional safeguards of the media activities and legal consequences of interference into the above safeguards to their activists, and to ensure prevention of such violent actions as much as possible, while in case of similar incidents to give adequate assessment to facts.

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