CLOSE

The case of Nika Gvaramia: silencing opposition voices in Georgia

The case of Nika Gvaramia: silencing opposition voices in Georgia

Nika Gvaramia is a Georgian journalist and leading opposition politician. Gvaramia was Minister of Justice and Minister of Education and Science under former President Mikheil Saakashvili and is a prominent critic of the current Georgian government and the ruling Georgian Dream party.

In May 2022, Gvaramia was convicted on charges of abuse of power and sentenced to three and a half years in prison. He was accused of using a company car for private purposes while serving as director of Rustavi 2, an opposition TV station. In October 2022, the Tbilisi Appeals Court rejected his appeal against conviction and sentence. The case is now at the Georgian Supreme Court.

Following his conviction, the U.S. Embassy in Georgia issued a statement noting that the conviction and sentence “calls into question Georgia’s commitment to rule of law.” Numerous international and Georgian NGOs have criticised the conviction as being politically motivated and designed to silence Gvaramia.[1][2][3][4] Notably, the conduct of the prosecution has been criticised, with observers noting that Gvaramia did not receive a fair trial.

Gvaramia’s lawyer has described the court’s finding as ‘absurd’ and noted that evidence provided at the trial – that he had been permitted to purchase and use the car and that there was no precedent in Georgian law for imprisoning a director for using a company’s assets – was ignored. The lengthy sentence has been criticised as being manifestly disproportionate.

In recent years, several international institutions have expressed concern over the state of media freedom and judicial independence in Georgia. For instance, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has pointed out that high-profile trials have been allocated to judges considered loyal to the government. In its recent recommendations to Georgia regarding the country’s application for candidate status, the EU has called upon Georgia to “ensure a judiciary that is fully and truly independent, accountable and impartial along the entire judicial institutional chain, also to safeguard the separation of powers; notably ensure the proper functioning and integrity of all judicial and prosecutorial institutions, in particular the Supreme Court.” Notably the EU has demanded a “free, professional, pluralistic and independent media environment, notably by ensuring that criminal procedures brought against media owners fulfil the highest legal standards”.[5]

Media Defence is concerned that Gvaramia has been convicted because of his work as a journalist as well as because of his political views. The Georgian Supreme Court now has an opportunity to remedy this miscarriage of justice by overturning his conviction and ordering his release.

 

 

[1] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/05/georgia-sentencing-of-pro-opposition-media-owner-nika-gvaramia-a-political-motivated-silencing-of-s-dissenting-voice/

[2] https://cpj.org/2022/05/georgian-pro-opposition-journalist-nika-gvaramia-sentenced-to-3-5-years-in-prison/

[3] https://www.transparency.ge/en/post/appellate-court-upheld-nika-gvaramias-imprisonment-politically-motivated-case

[4] https://osgf.ge/en/statement-of-non-governmental-organizations-regarding-the-arrest-of-nika-gvaramia/

[5] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_22_3800

Recent News

Call for Consultants: Update of Training Materials on Freedom of Expression in South and Southeast Asia

Purpose of the consultancy contract This is a call for consultants to review and update eleven existing training modules on freedom of expression in South and Southeast Asia. Background Media Defence’s vision is a world where journalists no longer face legal challenges that threaten their ability to report freely and independently on issues of public […]

Read

Media Defence et l’Impact Lab pour l’Etat de droit de Stanford Law School saisissent la Cour de justice de la CEDEAO contre les coupures d’internet ordonnées par l’Etat sénégalais

Le recours au nom d’AfricTivistes et de deux journalistes sénégalais vise à obtenir des mesures provisoires pour empêcher de nouvelles coupures d’Internet   READ IN ENGLISH   Dakar, le 13 février 2024 – Media Defence et le Rule of Law Impact Lab de la Stanford Law School ont déposé un recours devant la Cour de justice […]

Read

Media Defence and SLS’s Rule of Law Impact Lab File Case Before ECOWAS Court Challenging Senegal Internet Shutdowns

Filing on behalf of AfricTivistes and Two Senegalese Journalists Seeks Interim Measures to Prevent Internet Shutdowns.   READ IN FRENCH   Dakar, February 13, 2024 – Media Defence and the Rule of Law Impact Lab at Stanford Law School have filed a lawsuit before the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West […]

Read