Headquarters of Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 TV. Photo: Eana Korbezashvili/Civil.ge
On 3 March 2017, the European Court of Human Rights decided to temporarily suspend the enforcement of the Supreme Court’s March 2 decision, which granted the ownership rights of Rustavi 2 TV, Georgia’s most-watched television channel, to its former co-owner.
The ECHR decision was first presented by Nika Gvaramia, director general of Rustavi 2 TV, at his special press briefing on March 3.
Gvaramia stated a day earlier, immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision, that the Rustavi 2 lawyers would request an interim measure, the Court’s instrument for temporarily suspending the final decisions of national courts.
The ECHR’s two-page letter, which briefly outlines the judge’s decision, was posted on Rustavi 2 website right after Gvaramia’s press briefing.
“In the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before it, [the Court decided] to indicate to the Government of Georgia, under Rule 39, that the enforcement of the Supreme Court’s decision of 2 March 2017 should be suspended and that the authorities should abstain from interfering with the applicant company’s editorial policy in any manner,” the ECHR letter said.
The letter specified that the interim measure will be applied temporarily, until March 8, 2017.
It also stated that the Court decided to give priority to the Rustavi 2 application under rule 41, which determines the the order in which cases will be dealt by the ECHR. It however, did not specify when exactly would the Court convene for considering the Rustavi 2 application.
Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani, who commented on the ECHR decision on behalf of the Government two hours after Nika Gvaramia’s press briefing, stated that the Government “will follow the procedures as in all other cases that it had in Strasbourg.”
She also stated added that the Court “will have to decide whether to apply its practice on cases concerning freedom of expression, whether to extend the interim measure and whether to retain this decision or not.”
Under the Rules of Court, interim measures are binding and only applied in exceptional cases. The Court will only issue an interim measure against a Member State where, having reviewed all the relevant information, it considers that the applicant faces a real risk of serious, irreversible harm if the measure is not applied.
The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights rules on individual or state applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.