Georgia: EUMM reaches out to future journalists
OSCE Media Freedom Representative strongly deplores the continued practice of judicial persecution of journalists in Russia
VIENNA, 15 August 2022 – Following recent cases of criminal and administrative charges against journalists and media professionals in the Russian Federation, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, strongly deplores the continued practice of judicial persecution resulting in further decline in media freedom and access to information.
“Over the last few weeks, a considerable number of new cases of judicial persecution have been brought to my attention,” said Ribeiro. “These cases often refer to the alleged ‘dissemination of false information about the Russian armed forces,’ which is criminally punishable under a new law adopted following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
Marina Ovsyannikova, former producer at Pervyi Channel, has been charged with ‘dissemination of false information about the Russian armed forces’ and faces up to ten years imprisonment for a single-person picket she organized in front of the Kremlin on 15 July. Perviously, Fortanga’s editor-in-chief and journalist Isabella Evloyeva faced a criminal charge for a similar offence of ‘dissemination of false information’ based on her posts on Fortanga’s Telegram channel about the losses of the Russian army and the bombardment of a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine.
“The charge of spreading ‘false information’ in connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine is being instrumentalized for the purposes of silencing dissenting voices,” Ribeiro said.
Furthermore, administrative fines continue to be used to financially undermine media outlets and journalists. For example, authorities imposed a fine on Novaya Gazeta for ‘abuse of media freedom’ and threatened to invalidate its registration both as a print and digital outlet. Vladislav Postnikov, editor-in-chief of the Ekaterinburg-based independent news outlet, Vietchierniye Vedomosti, and Sergey Smirnov editor-in-chief of Mediazona were also fined on charges of ‘discrediting the use of Russian armed forces.’
On 9 August, Life.ru journalist and former correspondent for Kommersant and Izvestia, Alexandra Bayasitova, was put in pre-trial detention and charged with ‘extortion in order to get property’ (art. 163-6.3, Criminal Code). She faces up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted.
“Journalists must not be punished for carrying out their professional duties. In addition, pre-trial detention should not be used for putting unjust pressure on media workers. By violating OSCE commitments, Russian authorities deny their citizens access to essential information and create an atmosphere of fear and repression,” concluded Ribeiro.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter @OSCE_RFoM and facebook.com/osce.rfom.
Georgia should ensure effective implementation of the anti-discrimination legislation and improve protection of human rights in the fields of labour and the environment
Strasbourg, 15 July 2022 - The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, published today the report following her visit to Georgia in February 2022, with recommendations on combating discrimination against LGBTI people and those belonging to religious minorities, as well as protecting human rights in the fields of labour and the environment.
To ensure that LGBTI people and persons belonging to religious minorities live free from violence and discrimination, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to address the inadequate implementation of legal standards and the persistent deficiencies in combating impunity for hate crimes and incitement to violence, and to remove the discriminatory barriers to the enjoyment of their rights.
The Commissioner notes that LGBTI people remain affected by instances of hate crime and pervasive discrimination in Georgia. She calls on the authorities to step up efforts to combat impunity for human rights violations against them and stresses that raising awareness among the public and training relevant categories of professionals on the importance of their role in promoting equality, dignity and non-discrimination should be a priority. She adds that hate speech against LGBTI people in the public sphere is an issue of concern and that an appropriate response to hate speech, including when voiced by officials, religious and community leaders and media professionals, is needed through an effective use of law enforcement channels and other mechanisms, such as prevention, monitoring, self-regulation, and counter-speech. In light of repeated occurrence of LGBTI people having been denied their right to peaceful assembly, the Commissioner stresses that authorities should adopt comprehensive measures enabling LGBTI people to freely express their views and assemble. Regarding transgender people, the authorities should facilitate legal gender recognition without invasive medical requirements and in a quick, transparent, and accessible manner.
As regards religious minorities, the Commissioner urges the authorities to ensure effective investigation, prosecution, and dissuasive and proportionate sanctioning for hate crimes committed on the grounds of religion and to remove discriminatory barriers in accessing places of worship and in regulating tax and religious property matters. “An open dialogue with all religious communities should be established”, she stated. To support this dialogue, she underlines the need for a meaningful partnership between competent authorities and religious denominations, for changes to the relevant regulations and for continuous training and awareness raising activities targeting officials and the general public. In addition, the Commissioner notes that the authorities should pursue their efforts in eliminating religious biases and stereotyping from school textbooks.
Noting that a decade of deregulation and the abolishment of the labour Inspectorate in 2006 led to a significant deterioration in the protection of labour rights in Georgia, the Commissioner welcomes the recent comprehensive legal and institutional reforms and urges the authorities to close the remaining legislative gaps by establishing a minimum wage compliant with international standards, by ensuring equal access to parental leave, and by developing clear guidelines on the duration and compensation for overtime work. “It is now important to ensure a full implementation of the labour standards, including the anti-discrimination provisions”, she stated. To this end, it is crucial to provide the Labour Inspectorate with sufficient and adequately trained human resources and an appropriate budget. While welcoming recent progress in the reduction of workplace accidents, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to further improve occupational safety at the workplace. She also recommends promoting and supporting diversity and equality at work, including with regard to the integration of persons with disabilities. The Commissioner further recommends that the authorities address the gender pay gap and gender stereotypes in employment, to continuously raise awareness about sexual harassment, ways to report it and available remedies, as well as to take resolute action to address child labour and prevent and combat child trafficking.
As regards human rights and the environment, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to strengthen the implementation of the existing national legal framework, to guarantee public access to information and meaningful and transparent public participation in environmental decision-making processes at various levels of government, as well as to improve air quality and the tracking of air pollution. They should also develop and implement preventive measures to reduce the risk of environmental disasters and to ensure protection of the rights of people displaced by such disasters or owing to climate change. The authorities should also provide a safe and enabling environment for environmental human rights defenders and activists and support their work
- Read the Commissioner's report following her visit to Georgia in February 2022
- Read the comments of the authorities of Georgia on the report
- Watch the report in a nutshell
The Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the so-called presidential elections in the occupied Tskhinvali region
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia refers to the so-called second tour of presidential elections held on 8 May 2022 in Tskhinvali region occupied by the Russian Federation and condemns this illegal action that contradicts the fundamental principles and norms of international law and blatantly violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
Under the Russian occupation and effective control any so-called elections will not have legal consequences, in the circumstance when hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees expelled from their homes as a result of ethnic cleansing of Georgians in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions are still hampered to safe and dignified return home, and fundamental rights and freedoms of people on the ground are blatantly violated. Effective control of the Russian Federation over Georgia’s occupied regions and its responsibility for the violations of human rights on the ground are clearly attested in the Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 21 January, 2021.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia calls on the Russian Federation to respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and implement its international obligations, inter alia the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia appeals to the international community to duly assess and react on the actions directed against sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia.
MFA of Georgia
Georgia to submit the second part of the EU self-assessment questionnaire to the European Commission by 10 MayGeorgia will submit the second part of the EU self-assessment questionnaire to the European Commission on 10 May, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ilia Darchiashvili said following the meeting of the Georgian government commission on EU integration, chaired by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.
"Georgia has completed the second part of the questionnaire and we are going to hand it over to the European Commission by 10 May," the minister is quoted as saying.
As Ilia Darchiashvili noted, the second part of the questionnaire was of technical-sectoral nature, and it took a great deal of efforts to complete it. The Minister thanked the government agencies that took part in the process.
According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission’s opinion regarding the document will be the next step on the path of EU integration.
On 2 May, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, handed over the first completed part of the EU questionnaire to the EU Ambassador to Georgia, Karl Hartzel.
MFA of Georgia
World Press Freedom Day: EU urges Russia to stop attacks on journalists
On the eve of World Press Freedom Day tomorrow, EU High Representative Josep Borrell has congratulated brave journalists, camera crews, reporters, photographers and bloggers on behalf of the EU, saying that they are “risking their lives to keep us informed about Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine”.
“Russian forces are detaining, abducting or kidnapping and targeting journalists and civil society actors to prevent the world from hearing the truth,” J. Borrell said. “We strongly urge the Russian Federation to immediately stop such attacks and practices.”
According to the Council of Europe platform for the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, ten Ukrainian and international media workers have already been killed, and many others were wounded.
J. Borrell said the safety of journalists was an EU priority,adding that the EU is providing emergency support to media outlets and journalists covering the war in Ukraine, including psychological support, helmets and other protective equipment, as well as financing to cover salaries.
“By reporting from the front lines and shedding light on the gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Russian armed forces, journalists importantly contribute to counter disinformation and information manipulation surrounding the invasion,” said J. Borrell. “They play a crucial role in ensuring that these atrocities do not remain unpunished.”
J. Borrell also noted the courage of independent journalists in Russia and Belarus, who are trying to convey accurate information about Russian aggression against Ukraine.