The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned Georgian President
Mikheil Saakashvili’s imposition of censorship and a ban on media that prohibits news organisations from working freely during a two-week state of emergency.
“This is a dark day for Georgia and a dark day for democracy,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “Censorship never solves problems. It only creates ignorance and speculation and adds to crisis.”
The 15-day state of emergency will expire on November 22. It was declared after riot police on Wednesday used force to break up anti-government protests, which had been mounting in recent days.
Also on Wednesday many journalists were threatened by police and special forces raided IMEDI TV, which is owned by the multinational media giant News Corporation, according to information received by the IFJ. IMEDI and Kavkasia TV were taken off the air before press restrictions were announced that banned all media except for the public broadcaster from disseminating any news.
A decree from the president says that due to the state of emergency “receipt and free dissemination of information verbally, in writing or through other means by all TV and radio broadcasting organizations” is suspended and that “[r]eceipt and dissemination of information [is] to be effected exclusively by the Georgian Public Broadcasting.”
Government officials have said they will send out official letters with a description of new press rules to all media.
The IFJ is joining other members of the international community in condemning the media ban and calling for immediate media freedom.
“The ban on media and the suppression of independent reporting at such a critical time is a serious attack on press freedom and the public’s right to know what is going on,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “If President Saakashvili wants to ensure democratic and fair elections he must have allow independent media to cover the process.”
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 countries in 121