Cases of abuse, detention and questioning journalists by the police during the break up of a protest rally in Tbilisi “is worrisome,” Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, said.
Despite being clearly identifiable as members of the press, at least ten Georgian and foreign reporters were verbally and physically abused by police officers, OSCE said in a press release. Some journalists were detained for questioning, others had their press cards taken away, and their equipment damaged or confiscated.
In a letter sent to Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, Mijatović called on the Georgian authorities to ensure that journalists can safely perform their professional duties at all times
“The fact that the police would abuse, detain and question reporters engaged in their professional duties is worrisome,” Mijatović said. “Law enforcement agencies should not hinder the activities of journalists, but protect them and ensure that the media can operate freely in a safe environment.”
Reporters Without Borders said in a statement on May 27, that it was “deeply shocked” by the violence used against journalists covering break up of the protest rally in Tbilisi.
“According to our sources, at least a dozen journalists were attacked or detained by the police, who seem to have lost their self-control,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This use of force against reporters who were just covering events is intolerable. We urge both the authorities and the opposition to respect journalists, who must not be the collateral victims of the current political tension.”