Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Georgian authorities to guarantee the safety of reporters covering the campaign for the parliamentary elections on 31 October and to conduct a transparent investigation into attacks against at least five journalists, one of whom had to be hospitalized.
Three TV crews covering the campaign were physically attacked during clashes between pro-government and pro-opposition activists in the southern town of Marneuli on the evening of 29 September.
Jeyhun Muhamedali, one of four journalists with the opposition TV channel Mtavari Arkhi, had to be hospitalized overnight with a head injury sustained during the violence, in which a camera and microphone were damaged. A camera operator with Georgia’s public broadcaster GPB was also attacked and his camera was smashed.
The entire day was marred by incidents between members of the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition United National Movement. The police have begun an investigation into the violence and into the obstruction of journalists’ work, but they have not provided any details.
“Reporters must be able to cover the election campaign without being targeted,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “We call on the leaders of the two parties to condemn these attacks and we urge the authorities to conduct an exhaustive and transparent investigation in order to identify those responsible. The state has an obligation to guarantee journalists’ safety. With four weeks to go to a high-stakes election, impunity for those responsible for violence must be combatted.”