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NGOs about the escalation of the violence outside the Parliament Building

27.10.2018

 
Continuous and gross violation of the Constitution by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia causes escalation of the violence outside the Parliament building

Non-governmental organizations respond to the arrest of Zaza Saralidze and believe that his actions were provoked by persistent and gross violations of human rights by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia.
 
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has numerous times violated the Constitution of Georgia and the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations during multiple days of Zaza Saralidze’s, Malkhaz Machalikashvili’s and their supporters’ peaceful protest  outside the Parliament building, by not allowing them to erect a tent and/or other construction in the area. The violation of law by the representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia resulted in the escalation of violence today.
 
Non-governmental organizations, as well as the Public Defender of Georgia, made obvious statements on violent actions by the representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, representing the breach of the Constitution of Georgia, active legislation and unjustified interference in the right to peaceful assembly. However, as reported by media, the incident in front of the Parliament was followed by the interference of police in the arrangement of rain-protective construction, leading to violent actions from Zaza Saralidze’s side.
 
In light of ignoring recommendations issued by the temporary investigative commission of the Parliament of Georgia concerning violations committed by the investigative agencies with respect to Khorava Street crime and the representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs intentionally preventing victims’ peaceful protest, it is obvious that the government has no will to establish the truth and restore justice.
 
According to the media reports, Zaza Saralidze was charged under article 3531 of the Criminal Code of Georgia (assault on police officers or other representatives of the authorities or on a public institution) and his accompanying two persons - under article 173 of the Code of Administrative Offences  of Georgia (Non-compliance with the lawful order or demand of a law-enforcement officer, military servant, officer of a Special State Protection Service or enforcement police officer or verbal abuse of and/or any other abusive act against such person while such person is in the line of duty). Also, by media reports, Zaza Saralidze was transferred to Ingorokva clinic due to the deterioration of his health condition.
In spite of footage spread by the media, showing Zaza Saralidze physically assaulting the police officer, the circumstances which led to this violence should be taken into account, directly linked to illegal, arbitrary and anti-human rights policy of the MIA against assembly participants.
 
For several weeks, during day and night, protesters had to stay outdoors especially in bad weather conditions, causing the feelingof stress, disgrace, and vulnerability. Another interruption by the police officer in erecting a tent on a rainy day was a cleardemonstration of unlawful and anti-human action against Zaza Saralidze.
 
Both actions envisaged under the abovementioned Articles require law enforcement officers to carry out their official duties and necessity of their legitimate demand, while interruption in erecting a tent or other construction within the right to peaceful assembly cannot be deemed as a legitimate demand. Thus, there is no essential element of this crime. It’s also important to givethe legal assessment to the Police actions in the process of violence generation.
 
Unlawful interference with the exercise of the right to hold or participate in an assembly and demonstrations using violence, the threat of violence or official position is a crime and entails criminal liability.
 
Following the today’s developments in front of the Parliament building, we call upon:
 
The Chief Prosecutor’s office to:

Immediately start an investigation in connection with the restriction of the right to peaceful assembly and to bring criminal charges against the individuals who directly participated in the unlawful restriction of the said right using official position.

Analyze illegal and anti-human rights content of the State policy, becoming the basis of Zaza Saralidze’s unlawful action and together with the proper use of the criminal code of Georgia, apply humane and lawful approaches in the process of initiated investigation.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs to:

Immediately stop the unlawful and arbitrary practice of interfering with the right to peaceful assembly and use of tents/other constructions and make public statement thereon.

Taking into account the pre-election period, to understand the risks of escalating the processes and take every measure for creating peaceful, fair and safe environment. It is important that such environment first of all was guaranteed for fathers, organizing the protest, who became victims of political instrumentalization and ignorance from governmental representatives.
 
Undersigned organizations:

  • Article 42 of the Constitution
  • Equality Movement
  • Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
  • Institute for Democracy and Safe Development (IDSD)
  • Transparency International Georgia (TI)
  • Human Rights Centre (HRIDC)
  • Democracy Research Institute (DRI)
  • Centre “Empathy”
  • Union “Shelter” (“Sapari”)
  • Rehabilitation Initiative for Vulnerable Groups
  • Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS)
  • Media Development Foundation (MDF)
  • International Society fof Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
  • Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
  • Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA)
  • The Georgian Centre for Victims (GCRT)Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture
  • Human Rights House (HRHT)
  • Partnership for Human Rights (PHR)

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