Amnesty Int’l, HRW Decry Critical TV Chief’s Imprisonment

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, reputed international human rights organizations, have decried the imprisonment of Nika Gvaramia, Mtavari Arkhi TV chief, over abuse of power during his tenure as the general director of Rustavi 2 TV until mid-2019.

“The sentencing of Nika Gvaramia is a blatant act of politically motivated prosecution in retaliation of his dissenting views and criticism of the [Georgian] authorities,” Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, asserted today.

Noting that Gvaramia now faces 3.5 years behind bars “as the government ramps up efforts to silence dissenting voices,” Struthers called for the immediate release of the imprisoned Mtavari Arkhi TV chief.

She said that Gvaramia’s conviction highlighted “mounting concerns over declining media freedom in Georgia and exposes the government’s growing influence over the courts in a number of cases aimed at muzzling their critics and opponents.”

In the statement, the Amnesty International official also stressed that the case against Gvaramia was politically motivated and “designed to stifle freedom of expression.”

She added that Amnesty International is “concerned that the criminal threshold was not met, as has been confirmed by Transparency International and the Georgian Ombudsperson who monitored the trial.”

These issues must be addressed as Gvaramia’s defense appeals the court ruling in higher instances, Struthers said.

On May 16, Giorgi Gogia, Associate Director of Europe and Central Asia Division at the Human Rights Watch, argued in a tweet that Gvaramia was convicted and jailed “on bogus abuse of power charges.”

The Mtavari Arkhi TV chief’s imprisonment “is a huge blow to media freedom and rule of law in Georgia,” he added.

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