The Media Development Foundation(MDF) expresses concern over an incident that took place at around 01:00 on 7 September,in which the police prohibited Nata Grdzelishvili, a journalist from Internet-based news agency media.ge, and a person accompanying her, to take photos of stop and search operation being conducted in the street and in this process, detained the latter person.
According to the recount of journalist Nata Grdzelishvili, the police officers forced her and the accompanying person to erase photos they had taken of the stop and search operation from their mobile phones. The accompanying person was detained after he told the police officers to stop looking through media files in his mobile phone as they contained personal information, reminding them that law enforcement officers had no right to look through them.
According to the press service of the Interior Ministry, the person was detained on charges ofoffering resistance toa law enforcement officer,disobeying alegal order or demand, which is a crime envisaged byArticle 173 of the Code of Administrative Offences.
Even thought the court did not uphold the charge and released the detainee from the court room, which is a welcoming move, this does notneutralizethe need of bringingthepolice officers to account.
A traditional understanding of media has significantly changedas a result ofsocial and technological advancementsand the new notionofmedia implies the freedom of new actors – citizen journalists- togatherand release information in a public spacewithout any impediment.Consequently, the treatment by the police officers of the journalist Nata Grdzelishvili and the person accompanying her is unlawful and requires a legal response.
The MDF calls on the Interior Ministry of Georgia:
The MDF calls on the Inspector for Personal Data Protection: