‘There was no need to use violence during protests’, says Ombudsman of Georgia

Tbilisi: The Ombudsman of Georgia and his trustees continuously monitored the demonstration held on March 7-9 in order to protest the bills initiated by “People’s Power” in front of the Parliament of Georgia.

On the same days, the staff of the public defender and the apparatus were making visits to various departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, departments or temporary detention centers to visit people detained during the demonstrations.

Ombudsman of Georgia emphasizes that freedom of peaceful assembly is protected by the constitution of Georgia. I would like to note that acts of verbal or physical aggression or violence by an individual or a small group of persons does not impede the freedom of assembly of people who continue peaceful behavior.

According to the Ombudsman’s assessment, at the time of the announcement of the warning generation by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia in the evening of March 7, 2023, the demonstration had a peaceful character and there was no reason to stop it and use force against it.

As for cases of violence by protesters, individual – necessary and proportional measures should have been taken against them. Contrary to this, law enforcement has begun using special measures against peaceful demonstrators, which are contrary to the standard of necessary and proportional intervention in the law.

Violent actions started by the participants of the assembly at the back entrance of the Parliament were based on the use of the power of the whole assembly by the law enforcement, and the unfortunate interruption on March 8.

After some of the participants of the assembly began to damage the building at the back entrance of the Georgian Parliament building, breaking the glass, the police reacted accordingly, but the use of this force continued completely illegitimate towards peaceful participants of the gathering in front of the Parliament of Georgia.

As a result of the measures used by law enforcement officers to manage the gatherings, media representatives who were also injured, information was spread about their activities, while, during the demonstration, the law puts them under special protection.

At the same time, law enforcers actively appealed to the practice of mass detention of participants of the gathering. The circulated footage shows that, in some cases, such an action did not represent the measure of the current violation, therefore, failed to meet the request of necessity and had the face of undocumented interference in law.

On 7-9 March, at the same time, 96 arrested persons were visited by the Public Ombudsman of Georgia and Trustees. Trustees worked intensively not only in Tbilisi, but also in regions to meet with detainees. In addition, several detainees handed me a device demanding to study the legality of their detention.

Detainees pointed out rough forms of arrests and in some cases, injuries were noted. In the case of several detainees, at their own will and consent, the Public Defense Agency immediately contacted the Special Investigation Service to start an investigation.

The case of Zurab Japaridze is especially underlined. According to her and the witness, several representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs physically assaulted her, beat her with hands, legs and gloves. There are injuries to the head and neck area, as well as to the wrist.

The Ombudsman of Georgia continues to study the cases of people arrested at the rallies, and in the future will monitor the investigation into the fact of improper behavior of people detained in the special investigation service.

In addition, the Ombudsman calls on investigative agencies to conduct effective investigations into the use of disproportionate force as well as harming media representatives.

Satyam Dawar

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