STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
Employees of relevant units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are mobilized in Sagarejo district and are conducting investigative activities.
STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, on the basis of Article 17418 under the Code of Administrative Offenses, launched administrative proceedings, which implies Desecration of official symbols of the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or other international organizations or desecration of the flag or coat of arms of other states.The law enforcement officers will identify and fine the violators.The Ministry of Internal Affairs calls on rally participants gathered near the Parliament, not to go beyond the limits defined by the law on freedom of assembly and expression, observe the norms of public order and follow the lawful requests of police.Each act of violation will be immediately foiled by police and strict legal response will be followed.
Public Defender of Georgia Echoes March 7-9 Developments on Rustaveli Avenue
The Public Defender of Georgia Levan Ioseliani and his authorized persons were continuously monitoring the rallies held on March 7-9 against the draft laws initiated by People's Power in the Parliament of Georgia. The Public Defender and employees of the Public Defender’s Office made visits to various divisions, departments and temporary detention centers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to meet the persons detained during the rallies.
The Public Defender of Georgia emphasizes that freedom of peaceful assembly is enshrined in the Constitution of Georgia. According to the definition of the UN Human Rights Committee, "violence" implies the use of physical force by participants against others that is likely to result in injury or death, or serious damage to property. Accordingly, according to the Committee, mere pushing and shoving do not amount to “violence”. At the same time, it is important that verbal or physical acts of aggression or violence by an individual or a small number of people does not remove the right of those who continue to act in a peaceful manner. In similar cases, any intervention should aim to deal with the particular individuals involved rather than dispersing the entire event.
Based on the mentioned international standards, continuous monitoring and the information and video recordings released by the media, the Public Defender of Georgia is presenting his evaluations to the public:
On the evening of March 7, the situation became tense after some of the participants in the assembly tried to approach one of the entrances to the Parliament building, the road to which was blocked by the law enforcement officers. This was followed by a statement from the Ministry of Internal Affairs that the assembly became violent, that there was an attempt to block one of the Parliament entrances and that there were incidents of violence against the employees of the Ministry. Soon, a small part of citizens moved towards the second entrance. Clashes occurred at both locations.
According to the Public Defender's assessment, at the time of the warning made by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia in the evening hours of March 7, 2023, the assembly had a peaceful character and there was no reason to terminate it or use force against it. As for the cases of violence by individual participants in the rally, if there were any, individual - necessary and proportionate measures should have been taken against them. Contrary to this, the law enforcement officers started using special equipment against the participants in the assembly, including peaceful demonstrators, which contradicts the standard of necessary and proportionate interference with the right.
The violent actions started by individual participants in the assembly at the Parliament’s back entrance became the basis for the unjustified termination of the assembly with the use of force by the law enforcement officers on March 8. After some of the participants started breaking the windows and damaging the Parliament building at the back entrance, the police took appropriate actions, although the said use of force continued in a completely illegitimate manner against the peaceful participants in the assembly standing in front of the Parliament of Georgia.
It should also be noted that, in both cases, and especially after the first use of force in the night hours of March 8, the situation became tense several times and special equipment were repeatedly used against the participants in the assembly, including when there was no such necessity. According to the Public Defender's assessment, unjustified cases of the use of force in a similar situation always contribute to the artificial escalation of the situation, which law enforcement officers are obliged to prevent.
The media footage shows cases when special equipment was used against the participants in the rally without any reason, including by targeting their faces, when they just approached police officers peacefully. This clearly represents a criminal act. Several video materials released by the media clearly show gross physical violence against citizens.
As a result of the measures used by the law enforcement officers in order to manage the rallies, media representatives were also injured. Information was spread about interference with their activities, whereas, legislation puts them under special protection during assemblies.
At the same time, before and during the termination of the assembly, the law enforcement officers actively resorted to the practice of mass detention of demonstrators in an administrative manner. The relevant footage makes it clear that in some cases, the above was not a measure against the existing offence, therefore, it failed to meet the requirement of necessity and had the form of an unjustified interference with the right.
On March 7-9, the Public Defender and his authorized persons visited various divisions, departments and temporary detention centers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and met 96 detainees. The authorized persons worked intensively not only in Tbilisi, but also in the regions in order to visit the detainees. At the same time, several detained persons appealed to the Office with a request to study the legality of their detention.
The detainees indicated harsh forms of detention and in some cases, injuries. In relating to several detainees, with their own wish and consent, the Public Defender’s Office immediately applied to the Special Investigation Service with a request to start an investigation.
The case of Zurab Japaridze is particularly noteworthy. According to him and one of the witnesses, several representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs physically assaulted him. He was beaten with hands, feet and batons, as a result of which he sustained multiple injuries in the head and neck area, as well as in the wrist area.
In addition, according to the reports, in a number of cases, family members and lawyers of the detained persons, could not get information about the whereabouts of the detainees, as the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not provide the relevant information. Several Persons applied to the Public Defender’s Office for help. The above violates the detainees' right of defence, as they were not given the opportunity to meet with lawyers on time or develop a defence strategy.
The Public Defender’s Office will continue to study the cases of persons detained at the rallies. In addition, he will monitor the investigation launched by the Special Investigation Service into the ill-treatment of persons. The Public Defender calls on the investigative agencies to conduct an effective investigation into the use of disproportionate force, as well as the damages suffered by representatives of the media.
STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
Briefing of the Director of the Central Criminal Police Department – Teimuraz KupatadzeAs is known to the public, on March 7 and 8, protest rally was held near the Legislative Body of Georgia and on Rustaveli Avenue, which went beyond the norms established by the law on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and turned into violent actions.First of all, I would like to emphasize that it is categorically not allowed to verbally assault, attack or carry out violent actions against police officers.Within these two days, as a result of the violent actions of the rally participants, 58 employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were injured, among them 5 are still in various medical facilities.Everyone witnessed clearly how they threw burning objects, pyrotechnics or the so-called “Molotov cocktails” to my colleagues, as a result of which several of them received severe burns.Herewith, it was clearly visible in media live coverages how rally participants threw various blunt objects, stones, wooden or iron objects at the police, as a result of which many policemen received severe injuries.The Ministry of Internal Affairs studies each case of violence against police officers, and the identified criminals will be brought to justice with the full severity of the law.We would like to provide the public with summarized information on the recent events in the area surrounding the Parliament and on Rustaveli Avenue.On March 7 of the current year, after announcing that manifestation was planned to take place, the representatives of the relevant units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in order to protect public order, were stationed near the legislative body and ensured the peaceful conduct of manifestation.However, at the end of the day, the participants of the rally tried to block the entrances to the Parliament.In order to restore public order, based on the necessity, police consistently applied proportional force and special means of coercion provided by the Law of Georgia "On Police" after the warning announcements.Despite numerous calls from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to continue manifestation within the framework of the law, protesters continued their violent actions on Chichinadze and Chitadze streets.In order to ease the tension and de-escalate the situation, the police forces opened the road for the rally participants, cleared the streets surrounding the Parliament and called on them to continue manifestation peacefully.Nevertheless, the rally participants threw various objects - stones, so-called “Molotov Cocktails”, inflammables, blunt objects - at the direction of the police officers, and physically attacked and resisted them. They also damaged vehicles on purpose belonging to the Ministry and special police gear.Later on, the crowd began an organized attack on the parliament building, throwing so-called Molotov cocktails and pyrotechnics.We all saw that the protesters set fire to the building of the legislative body, threw stones, broke the windows and damaged the protective barriers.Deliberate, mass violation of public order continued for several hours. In order to restore the public order, the police applied the proportional force and special means several times.During the manifestation, the law enforcement officers arrested 66 people in accordance with Articles 166 and 173 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, on the facts of petty hooliganism and disobedience to the legal demands of the police.The rally continued on the second day near the legislative body.In order to de-escalate the situation, employees of various police units were stationed in the inner territory of the Parliament.Throughout the day, the police protected the public order in the area surrounding the legislative body.Within the framework of the mandate defined by the Law of Georgia "On the Police", with the purpose to ensure safety, the police carried out superficial inspection of citizens near the place where manifestation was held, as a result of which 10 people were arrested. They brought illegal items at the rally, intended for violent actions, including stun gun, batons, stones, and various types of pyrotechnics.The participants of the rally gathered in front of the Parliament had the opportunity to hold a protest in a peaceful and safe environment.Nevertheless, calls for violent actions were periodically heard from individuals.After one of the speakers called on the gathered people to picket the legislative body, the protesters began to block the entrances leading to the parliament and picket the building.The gathered people damaged the protective barriers located near the parliament building, entrance doors, smashed the building's windows, damaged the iron grilles, threw stones, various objects and pyrotechnics at the parliament building and yard.Therefore, the police forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in order to maintain public order, prevent violent and aggressive actions from the side of law-breakers, applied appropriate coercive measures and special means provided by the Law of Georgia "On Police".Despite numerous attempts by the police to defuse the tense situation, the people gathered on Rustaveli Avenue started attacks in the direction of the police officers, throwing Molotov cocktails, stones, wooden poles and other objects.The rally participants damaged, overturned and set fire to vehicles belonging to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They damaged the bus of the Special Tasks Department with stones, painted and damaged the fire truck as well. Material property belonging to Tbilisi City Hall was damaged as well.Throughout the night, the participants of manifestation violated the public order and the rule of law, resisted police officers, damaged the infrastructure and set fire to various things on the central avenue and its surrounding locations.On March 7-8 of the current year, due to the facts of law violations that occurred during the protest rally in the vicinity of the Parliament, the law enforcement officers arrested one individual under Article 353(1) while 133 people were taken under arrest in total in accordance with Articles 166 and 173 envisioned by the Code of Administrative Offences.Some of the detainees were brought before the court yesterday. The rest of the arrestees were released, as the term of stay in the temporary detention center was expired and will appear at the court later.the Ministry of Internal Affairs continues investigation in order to determine, identify and arrest all those who attacked policemen and other violent actions during the protest.Violent incidents are being investigated under Articles 353 (1) and 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.
STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation under articles 353 and 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia in connection with violent incidents that took place in Tbilisi, Rustaveli Avenue, near the Parliament building.The law enforcement officers arrested 66 people in accordance with Articles 166 and 173 under the Code of Administrative Offenses, on the facts of minor hooliganism and disobedience to the legal request of the law enforcement officer. The facts of the offense committed by the mentioned individuals shall be submitted to the court within the time frame established by the law.From the side of the Ministry, the appropriate legal assessment will be given to the actions of all individuals who facilitated and organized the development of a peaceful protest into violent action.Yesterday, throughout the day, the relevant units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were mobilized near the parliament building in order to ensure the public order and peaceful conduct of the manifestation.Later, the protest of the gathered went beyond the limits established by law on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and took a violent turn.Participants of the rally attempted to block entrances of the Parliament, which was prevented by police. Despite numerous calls from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to express their protest in a peaceful manner within the framework of the law, rally participants continued their violent actions and ignored the legal requirements of the law enforcement officers.The police, in order to ease the tension and de-escalate the situation, opened the road and called on protesters to disperse. However, the rally participants threw various objects - stones, inflammables, blunt objects – to the direction of the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, physically assaulted and resisted the policemen. Participants of the rally damaged and set fire to vehicles belonging to the Ministry as well as special police equipment.In order to restore public order and foil violations of the law, the police was forced to gradually apply proportional force and special means of coercion provided by the Law of Georgia "On Police" based on the necessity and after the appropriate warning.Later, the gathered people started an organized attack on the parliament building, throwing the so-called "Molotov cocktails" and pyrotechnics, including in the direction of law enforcement officers.Members of the manifestation set fire to the building of the legislative body, threw stones, smashed windows and damaged the iron protective barriers.There was a mass violation of law and order from the side of rally participants, which persisted continuously for several hours.As a result of the violent actions of the assembled citizens, up to 50 employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were injured, several of them required surgical intervention and are still in medical institutions. During the manifestation, citizens were injured as well.The Ministry will study all facts of violation that took place during the manifestation and will give an appropriate legal assessment to each one of them.
Georgia: Statement by the High Representative on the adoption of the “foreign influence” law
On Tuesday, the Georgian Parliament adopted the new law on “transparency of foreign influence” in a first reading. This is a very bad development for Georgia and its people.
The law in its current form risks having a chilling effect on civil society and media organisations, with negative consequences for the many Georgians benefiting from their work. This law is incompatible with EU values and standards. It goes against Georgia’s stated objective of joining the European Union, as supported by a large majority of Georgian citizens. Its final adoption may have serious repercussions on our relations.
The European Union urges Georgia to uphold its commitment to the promotion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and recalls the right of people to a peaceful protest.
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