Public Defender Demands Criminal Prosecution of Two Persons for Organizing Group Violence and Calling for Violence on July 5
Two months have passed since the violent events of July 5, but the Georgian Prosecutor's Office has not launched criminal prosecution against any individual for organizing group violence. The Public Defender Nino Lomjaria examined the video footage released by the media and considers that the publicly available evidence reaches the standard of probable cause for launching criminal proceedings against two persons for organizing group violence as well as for publicly calling for violence.
Pursuant to Article 21 (c) of the Organic Law of Georgia on the Public Defender of Georgia, the Public Defender is entitled to request the initiation of an investigation and/or criminal prosecution if the examination of the case shows elements of crime. Accordingly, the Public Defender has already used the authority granted by the organic law and applied to the Prosecutor's Office with a request to initiate criminal proceedings against Zurab Makharadze and Spiridon Tskipurishvili.
The proposal to launch prosecution was based on publicly released videos showing that before the July 5 violence, on Alt-Info TV, Zurab Makharadze and other individuals had been continuously announcing violence against participants in the event planned by Tbilisi Pride. Violent calls were also heard against journalists. The same individuals spread information on television about the formation of groups with the direct purpose of violence on July 5.
It is substantiated in the Public Defender’s proposal that Zurab Makharadze personally led the group violence on July 5, including the removal of protest tents in front of the legislative body and the allocation of various groups to raid the offices of the Shame Movement and Tbilisi Pride.
Finally, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Georgia, 53 persons were identified as victims of the group violence on July 5, 2021, and criminal proceedings were launched against 27 persons. However, no one has been prosecuted for organizing group violence.
In addition, the Public Defender made another proposal to the Prosecutor General's Office and demanded the launch of criminal proceedings against Spiridon Tskipurishvili for publicly calling for violent actions. It was established according to the standard of probable cause that on July 5, at about 14:14, the Archpriest of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Spiridon Tskipurishvili, by using a microphone and sound enhancer devices, called on citizens to be violent, thus went beyond the freedom of expression and committed an action forbidden by Article 2391 of the Criminal Code of Georgia – call for violence that creates an obvious, direct and substantial threat of violence.
The Public Defender continues to gather information about the investigation ongoing into the July 5 violence and, if necessary, will again use the authority given to her by the organic law.
The Public Defender of Georgia is echoing the media reports, according to which, serious physical injuries were inflicted to a transgender women. An investigation is in progress under article 19-180 of the Criminal Code (attempted premeditated murder).
The investigation of alleged hate crimes is one of the priorities for the Public Defender. A number of cases are currently being studied in the Public Defender’s Office, which may include discriminatory motive on various protected grounds. Unfortunately, in most cases, alleged hate motive is not considered during the investigation and/or it is ambiguous what kind of investigative actions are carried out in order to identify such a motive.
The Public Defender considers that finding the truth, including identifying the real motive of the crime, is necessary not only for administration of justice in one particular case, but also for the prevention of hate crimes in the future. In a widely homophobic and transphobic society, there is a danger that this type of crime may be repeated, especially given that the investigative authorities do not bring the discriminatory motive into focus.
The Public Defender calls on the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to carry out a comprehensive, complete and objective investigation into the case and to focus on the alleged hate motive.
Ahead of World Refugee Day, PACE President Pedro Agramunt calls on all Europeans to stand up and show their solidarity and support for the more than 50 million refugees worldwide.
“These 50 million refugees are not just numbers on a piece of paper, they are real people. Like me, like you, they have faces, names, and they have rights”.
“Violence, wars and political repression left them with no option but to leave their homes and countries. They have escaped from conflicts and often survived long and incredibly dangerous journeys. We have the legal and human obligation to do everything in our power to help them”.
On this World Refugee Day, PACE President invites all Europeans not to fall into the trap set by populist and xenophobic rhetoric, “open your hearts, speak to refugees, listen to their stories and their struggle. What refugees need is empathy, support and understanding for their suffering, not indifference or hatred”, he concluded.
United Nations human rights expert Dubravka Šimonović will visit Georgia from 15 to 19 February 2016 to assess the situation of violence against women and girls in the country and gather first-hand information from victims of violence.
“I am grateful to the Government of Georgia for the invitation to conduct the first official visit to the country by a UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences,” Ms. Šimonović said.
“Violence against women continues to be one of the most pervasive human rights violations globally, affecting every woman worldwide”, she stressed. “States have a primary responsibility to take effective action to eliminate violence against women, so it is ultimately up to State authorities to make its eradication a reality.”
During her five-day visit, the Special Rapporteur will meet with Government authorities, civil society representatives and other stakeholders in Tbilisi, as well as Kakheti and Shida Qartli regions.
The expert will also visit a shelter for victims of domestic violence, a camp for internally displaced persons and she will meet with individual victims of gender-based violence and minority women. “I hope that as a result of my interactions with government and civil society representatives, I will contribute to the current discussions and efforts in the fight against such violence in the country”, she said.
The Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference on the initial findings of her visit on Friday 19 February at 17:00 at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel (4 Freedom Square, Tbilisi). Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.
Based on the information obtained during the visit, Ms. Šimonović will present a report with final findings and recommendations during the thirty-second session of Human Rights Council, in June 2016.
Ms.Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015, to recommend measures, ways and means, at the national, regional and international levels, to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences. Ms. Šimonović has been member of the CEDAW Committee from 2002 to 2014. She headed the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia and was the Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Croatia to the UN in New York. She was also Ambassador to the OSCE and UN in Vienna. She co-chaired the Ad hoc Committee (CAHVIO) of the Council of Europe that elaborated the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).She has a PhD in Family Law and published books and articles on human rights and women’s rights. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/SRWomenIndex.aspx
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, Country Page – Georgia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/GEIndex.aspx