Interference with the Journalists’ Professional Duties and Monitoring of Freedom of Expression Chapter of the Action Plan of the Government of Georgia on the Protection of Human Rights
Interference with Journalists’ professional duties is punishable under the article 154 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, namely:
"1. Unlawful interference with the journalists' professional activities, i.e. coercing a journalist into disseminating or not disseminating information, - shall be punished by a fine or community service from 120 to 140 or with corrective labour for up to two years.
2. The same act committed using threat of violence or official position, - shall be punished by a fine or imprisonment for up to two years, with or without the deprivation of the right to hold an official position or to carry out a particular activity for up to three years or without this."
As the results of the monitoring of the Government’s Action Plan of the Protection of Human Rights conducted by MDF reveals, law enforcement and investigation bodies do not assign respective qualification and do not efficiently investigate the cases with evident hindering of journalistic activities.
This report overviews the 2016 incidents of interference with journalists’ professional duties, including Parliamentary elections day violations revealed via media coverage. It also consists of the monitoring findings of the implementation of Freedom of Expression Chapter of Action Plan of the Government of Georgia on the Protection of Human Rights. Council of Europe and OSCE standards aimed at protection journalists' safety are presented as well followed by concluding recommendations.
Among actions identified in the freedom of expression chapter of the Action Plan of the Government of Georgia on the Protection of Human Rights for 2014-2015, is review of the notion of "interference” with professional activities of Journalists. Despite legislative gaps revealed in practice which is related to the narrow definition of the notion of interference in the professional activities of journalists, the legislative amendments in this regard have not been initiated yet.