In a joint statement nine civil society organizations have condemned court’s ruling ordering replacement of Rustavi 2 TV top managed as “unlawful”, which makes it clear that ongoing litigation over the broadcaster’s ownership dispute aims at changing its editorial policy.
“In the ruling the judge questions editorial policy of the broadcaster and equips new management with the right to change the journalists. This judgment makes it clear that the recent targeted attacks against Rustavi 2 in reality aimed at changing the editorial policy of the broadcaster,” reads the statement. “It is now obvious that this decision was made to circumvent the ruling of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, which prevented the immediate enforcement of the Civil Court’s decision of November 3 on changing the ownership of Rustavi 2.”
“This decision destroys editorial independence of Rustavi 2, fundamentally undermines freedom of media, ruins the media pluralism in the country and has an implication of challenging Georgia’s constitutional order and stability. Maintaining Rustavi 2 as a critical TV channel is essential for Georgia’s democracy, especially in light of the upcoming Parliamentary elections of 2016.”
“We call on all friends of Georgia to immediately raise this issue with the Government of Georgia at the earliest possibility and the highest possible level. Pressure on Rustavi 2 needs to stop immediately and it must continue broadcasting in an unhindered way. Rustavi 2 must also have the right to fair trial, which it is currently deprived of.”
“At this decisive point it is extremely important that all stakeholders find legal ways out of the current extremely dangerous impasse. The role of international community in this process is absolutely essential at this critical juncture for Georgia’s democracy,” reads the statement.
The statement has been signed by the Transparency International Georgia; International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy; Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS); Georgia’s Democratic Initiative; Media Development Foundation; Economic Policy Research Center; Atlantic Council of Georgia; Baltic to Black Sea Alliance, and Foundation for Civic Education.