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The government continues to use violence against the participants of the peaceful protest in order to defend “Russian Law”

2024-05-16 15:10
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12 Georgian non-governmental organizations continue to defend the rights of those arrested and injured during the protests against the "Russian law" in April-May. In order to dampen the momentum of protests and punish activists, the authorities continue to use disproportionate force, mass arrests, inhumane treatment and criminal prosecutions.

From April 15 to May 15, the unified hotline of non-governmental organizations received notifications about 189 persons arrested on the basis of the following articles of Administrative Offences Code of Georgia: Art. 166 (disorderly conduct) and Art. 173 (non-compliance with a lawful order or demand of a law-enforcement officer). We also got notifications from 30 peaceful demonstrators, who are fined under Articles 125 (blocking a road with vehicles in an organised way or taking part in a group driving in town or in another built-up area during which the roadway is fully occupied), 150, 150 (1), 150 (2) (making various types of inscriptions, drawings or symbols on building facades, shop windows, fences, columns, trees, also, also putting up placards, slogans, banners and defacement of the appearance of a territory of a municipality) and 174 (1) (violating the rules for organizing or holding assemblies or demonstrations) of Administrative Offences Code of Georgia. At the same time, according to our information, a criminal case investigation was started against 7 persons.

The majority of detainees point to the facts of physical and verbal abuse by law enforcement officers during their detention. It should be noted that the use of force by the police in most cases has the form of retribution and is not related to the prevention of illegal resistance or violation of law. In several cases, the representatives of the law-enforcement agency used such severe methods of excessive force that several detainees had to be treated in a medical institution and undergo emergency surgery, depending on the severity of their injuries.

It is problematic to collect information about those detainees who are taken by the law enforcement officers directly to the medical facility, as their location cannot be determined on time by the lawyer and the family. In number of cases, detainees with injuries were not registered as emergency patients brought to medical facilities by law enforcement officers. In such a case, at the end of the treatment, the detainees have to cover some of the costs of the treatment themselves. In addition, in some cases, it was revealed that the temporary placement isolators do not keep a detailed record of injuries, which is problematic for the proper conduct of the investigation.

Taking into account the number of detained protestors, injuries inflicted on their bodies and their narratives, it can be seen that the violence, inhumane and humiliating treatment of the protestors has a systematic character, which is encouraged by the decision-makers. It should also be emphasized that in some cases the violence perpetrated by the police on the participants of the rally is equal to torture in terms of its intensity and degree of cruelty.

Regarding these facts, the information was provided to the Special Investigation Service, where the investigation has been started on the facts of the possible abuse of official authority by violence against

the participants of the protest action. However, the public has not yet been informed about the results of the investigation.

It should be noted that, contrary to the standards of the European Court of Human Rights, none of the police officers mobilized at the current actions wear distinctive signs, most of them are camouflaged, thus making it significantly more difficult to identify them in case of crimes (TSAAVA AND OTHERS v. GEORGIA, nos. 13186/20, paragraph 223). It is alarming that the Special Investigation Service has not made a clear statement regarding this inappropriate practice of human rights.

The inaction of the Special Investigation Service and the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia in relation to those police officers whose identities are identifiable and numerous direct evidences of their commission of crimes is worrying. Delayed response to such facts, when the evidentiary standard required for criminal prosecution is already clear, encourages law enforcement officers to commit similar crimes.

We call on the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to:

· refuse violent practices that are against the law, incompatible with the protection of human rights and violate dignity;

· do not prevent the participants of the peaceful protest from expressing their peaceful protest.

We call on the Special Investigative Service:

· to ensure a complete and objective investigation of allegedly arbitrary arrests, use of disproportionate force, physical violence against detainees by law enforcement officers with appropriate qualifications;

· due to the high public interest, periodically provide information to the public about the initiation of the investigation, conducted investigative actions and the results of the investigation;

· timely grant victim status to those persons who were harmed as a result of police actions used during protests in April-May period.

We call on the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia to:

· exercise its own exclusive authority and, with appropriate qualifications, initiate criminal prosecution against those police officers whose commission of crimes is proven by numerous evidences.

The Legal Aid Network of non-governmental organizations continues to protect the rights of those arrested during protests against Russian law.

Yes to Europe, not to Russian law!


Member organizations of the Legal Aid Network:

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)

Transparency Intenational – Georgia (TI)

Social Justice Center (SJC)

Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)

Rights Georgia (RG)

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)

Human Rights Center (HRC)

Democracy Research Institute (DRI)

Women's Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG)

Partnership for Human Rights (PHR)

Civil Society Foundation (CSF)

Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)

Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)