On March 2nd, the Supreme Court of Georgia made a decision to grant ownership of the Rustavi 2 TV Company to the company’s former owner Kibar Khalvashi. The implementation of the decision was then suspended by the European Court of Human Rights on March 3rd.
Responding to the ECHR decision, 28 non-governmental organizations in Georgia called for the Strasbourg court to “use the right of temporary suspension mechanism until a final decision is made.” According to Transparency International Georgia, “this is especially important given that throughout the discussion of the case on the national level there have been questions regarding the independence, impartiality of the judges and political motivations of the government.”
The letter in full is as follows:
Among signing organizations are: Transparency International Georgia, Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA), International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF), Media Development Foundation, The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics, Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters (GARB), Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI), Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), Atlantic Council of Georgia, Georgia’s Reforms Associates, Society and Banks, Union Sapari, Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI), Equality Movement, Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, Georgian Strategic Analysis Center, Partnership for Human Rights (PHR), Baltic to Black Sea Alliance (BBSA), In Depth Reporting and Advocacy Center, Institute for Democracy and Safe Development (IDSD), Foundation for Civic Education, Article 42 of the Constitution, Mediaclub, Association Green Alternative, The Economic Policy Research Center, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, UN Association of Georgia & Civil Development Agency.”
Georgia’s justice minister, Tea Tsulukiani, also commented on the ECHR decision saying that: “According to the letter sent from the Strasbourg court, the decision was made individually, by the judge on duty; the surname we do not know (that’s the procedure), and in a way that we, the answering side, were not informed about and no information was asked from us.”
Tbilisi City Court and the Appellate Court of Georgia previously decided to grant 100% ownership of the TV company to former owner Kibar Khalvashi; his sister has been an MP for the Georgian Dream party since 2012. Rustavi 2 applied to appeal the decisions to the Supreme Court. The decision of the Supreme Court of Georgia is final and could not be appealed to another court in Georgia.