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Human Rights Center appeals Fines issued for not wearing Masks Outdoors

17.03.2021

Manana Vardiashvili

Hundreds of people have been fined with GEL 20 since November 4, 2020 for being outdoors without masks, while Article 4211 of the Code of Administrative Offenses provides for a fine only for violating the rule of wearing masks indoors. 

The amendment introduced to the Code of Administrative Offenses allowing the police to fine individuals who are outdoors without masks became effective from February 18, 2021. From November 4, 2020 to February 18, 2021, the beneficiaries of Human Rights Center (HRC) are among those who have been illegally fined. The cases of several of them have already been appealed in court. 

Among them is D. J. living in Kutaisi.  He was fined by the patrol police on January 4, 2021. 

“I was fined when I left premises and moved the mask down. No one was around. The report reads that I have violated Article 4211 of the Administrative Code,” says D.J. 

The lawyer of HRC, Ana Chapidze appealed the report on administrative offense issued against D.J.  to the Patrol Police Department. By the decision of January 16, 2021, the Ministry of Internal Affairs rejected the complaint. The case is currently pending with Kutaisi City Court.

On January 31, 2021, in Zugdidi, in the vicinity of the City Hall, outdoors, I.B. was fined with GEL 20 for not wearing a mask. The report drawn up by the police officer states that he also violated Article 4211 of the Code of Administrative Offenses.  

“We appealed the report to Zugdidi Patrol Police. The point is that the sanctions for not using a mask are governed by the Code of Administrative Offenses. Article 42 of the Code lists the cases where pecuniary sanctions shall be applicable. The amendment envisaging a fine of GEL 20 for violating the rules of wearing a mask outdoors were made to the Code of Administrative Offenses on February 18, 2021. Before that, the Code did not mention "outdoors", and the fine only applied for violating the rules of wearing a mask indoors, in public transport and taxis.  Although, the requirement to wear a mask outdoors was envisaged by Article 3(a1) of  Ordinance N 368 of the Government of Georgia from June 15, 2020 (the amendment was made on November 3, 2020), on the basis of which the patrol police was fining the citizens outdoors for violating the rules of wearing masks, the police was referring in the report Article 4211of the Code of Administrative Offenses providing for the right to draw an administrative report and impose sanctions on individuals only for indoors violations,” says HRC lawyer Ana Chapidze.  

Georgian court has already heard a similar case. On March 10, 2021 Judge of Sachkhere District Court, Kakha Kipiani cancelled a citation of GEL 20 issued by a police officer on December 25, 2020 fining Giorgi Chighladze for being without a mask outdoors. 

Human Rights Center is implementing the project "Free Legal Advocacy and Human Rights Monitoring after the Coronavirus Pandemic" with the assistance of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Georgia. The aim of the project is to identify the possible violations of human rights  during the state of emergency announced  for the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus and in the post-pandemic period and to raise awareness about the possible violations in Tbilisi and five regions of Georgia: Shida Kartli, Kakheti, Kvemo Kartli, Imereti and in Samegrelo. 

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