Public Defender Addresses UN, OSCE Representatives Regarding Adjara TV

On September 1, the Public Defender of Georgia addressed Irene Khan, newly elected UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and Harlem Désir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in order to examine ongoing processes in Adjara TV.

The Georgian Ombudsperson relayed information to the UN and OSCE representatives regarding the violations revealed as a result of the examination of the events developed at the broadcaster, which, as explained by the Ombudsperson, “threaten media pluralism in the country and negatively affect freedom of expression.”

In the letter, the Public Defender “presumes that the ongoing events in the Adjara Public Broadcaster are aimed at changing the editorial policy of the TV station.”

In the address, the Public Defender also notes that in the country, especially in lead up to parliamentary elections, a public broadcaster “free of interference” and “independent” is of critical importance.

Asking the OSCE Representative and the UN Special Rapporteur to show interest in the issue, the Public Defender also appealed them to “address the Georgian authorities with a public statement and/or pay an official visit to Georgia as soon as possible to examine the circumstances described in the letter on the ground.”

Earlier, on August 27, the Public Defender released the results of an examination of the cases of four former and current employees of Adjara TV, presenter-reporter of Adjara TV news service Teona Turmanidze, reporter of the same service Teona Kharabadze, head of the online media service Sophio Zhgenti and former presenter-reporter of “Hashtag” Malkhaz Rekhviashvili.

In the report, the Public Defender’s Office discussed the violation of workers’ rights by the Adjara Public Broadcaster management and addressed Giorgi Kokhreidze, director of the TV channel, to annul the orders regarding the four employees.

The Public Defender also called on Kokhreidze to strictly observe the law when making staff-related decisions in the future and to refrain from “discriminatory treatment” in labor relations on various grounds.

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