The government must not restrict citizen journalism
Transparency International (TI) Georgia would like to express its concern regarding instances of police officers restricting citizens from recording recent publicly performed law enforcement raids. Restrictions are applied without any explanation and include prohibition of recording, erasing of recorded material, and in some cases even detention of citizens.
TI Georgia and its partner organizations published a statement last week in response to recent reports of grave crimes. In this statement civil society representatives call on the government to publish comprehensive crime statistics more frequently and regularly, provide media and the public access to the methodology of gathering crime statistics, and develop an effective strategy for preventing and combating crime.
Law enforcement agencies and the government at large are responsible for combating crime and taking appropriate preventive measures against it. While implementing its strategy, however, the government must not infringe on the rights of citizens and must duly justify any restriction or prohibition.
There can be no doubt of existing high public interest towards the country’s crime situation. This is evidenced by frequent reports and statements published by both media and the government. Therefore, it is unacceptable for law enforcement agencies to restrict audio-video recording of actions they take in public. Recording and dissemination of information of high public interest is the right of any citizen, not only that of journalists. Recent technological advancements have greatly contributed to the rise of citizen journalism around the world. A number of international organizations, including the European Commission and Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, urge all governments to protect citizens' right to engage in this activity.
TI Georgia calls on the government, particularly senior officials at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, not to restrict citizen journalism, and for this purpose to explain relevant obligations to representatives of law enforcement agencies.