DRI: Physical retaliation against protestors cannot be considered a legitimate police measure

Georgian Dream again plans to adopt the Russian law, which will restrict free and critical opinions in Georgia. The adoption of the bill will block the path of the people of Georgia to the European Union.

The Democracy Research Institute echoes the cases of physical retaliation against participants in the rally by the employees of the riot police on the territory adjacent to the Parliament on May 13, which cannot be considered legal police measures.

On May 13, at around 6:00 am, the Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a statement calling on demonstrators to vacate the entrances to the Parliament building, otherwise, "police forces" would be used.

According to the observation of the Democracy Research Institute, the rally near the Parliament has not become violent at any stage. In addition, demonstrators had not declared their intention to block the Parliament entrances. Despite the emphatically peaceful nature of the rally, a few minutes after the statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the law enforcement officers forcibly cleared the area around Zhvania Street by using physical force, after which 20 protesters were arrested in the vicinity of the legislative body. It can be seen from the footage that at the moment of the arrest, law enforcement officers were physically abusing protesters and hitting them in the head.

The Democracy Research Institute believes that the form of the arrest was illegal and disproportionate - dozens of law enforcement officers, most of whom, according to their clothing and equipment, did not represent patrol police officers, physically abused a protester, who they had targeted in advance, and dragged him to the police cordon. Most of the detainees visited by lawyers of civil society organizations have signs of physical injuries.

In parallel with the protests and clashes with the peaceful protesters, the Legal Issues Committee considered and supported the Russian law in the third reading in just 67 seconds.

Permitting illegal violent police tactics and leaving them unpunished increases the scale of illegal violence and aims to suppress the protest mood. Accordingly, the Democracy Research Institute once again calls on:

Georgian Dream:
  • to return to the constitutional framework and refuse to adopt the Russian law;
Ministry of Internal Affairs:
  • to be guided in its activities only by the principles of protection of and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms, lawfulness and political neutrality.
Special Investigation Service:
  • to immediately and effectively investigate the cases of abuse of authority by law enforcement officials both during the morning of May 13 and past days.