The Democracy Research Institute is responding to the dispersal of a peaceful rally outside the Parliament of Georgia on the morning of November 26 and believes that the force used during the dispersal was not proportionate.
The Georgian legislation sets out a full list of grounds, the cumulative existence of which is necessary for the restriction of the right to assembly and manifestation. Specifically, according to the Law on Assemblies and Manifestations, restrictions on the rights enshrined in the law should be: aimed at achieving the benefits protected by the Constitution of Georgia, provided for by law, necessary for a democratic society, proportionally restrictive and such that the benefit protected by the restriction be higher than the damage caused by the restriction.
According to the Democracy Research Institute, the restriction of the protesters’ freedom of assembly and expression at the dawn of the 26th of November, namely the violent dispersal of the rally, was not provided for by law, did not serve the protection of benefits under the Constitution of Georgia, was not proportionally restrictive or necessary for a democratic society.
In particular, when examining the legality of the dispersal of the rally, it is of foremost importance to determine what was the benefit that the Ministry of Internal Affairs was trying to protect by dispersing the peaceful assembly. The statement released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia shows that the benefit to be protected by the actions of police forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was to free the Parliament entrances from demonstrators. In order to achieve this, the Ministry of Internal Affairs arrested 28 persons, while three citizens sustained various injuries, one of which, according to the eyewitnesses, suffered an eye injury.
The Democracy Research Institute considers that the imbalance between the protected "benefit" and the harm suffered by the demonstrators shows that the force used by the police failed to meet the requirement of proportionality established by law and was therefore unlawful, while the necessity of freeing the Parliament entrances from peaceful demonstrators cannot be regarded as a benefit protected by law.
The necessity to use proportional force when dispersing demonstrations is emphasized in a number of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
According to the case law of the European Court, the legal justification of a higher standard is required for the use of special techniques, such as water cannon, against demonstrators.
The Democracy Research Institute once again points out that the assessment of the use of disproportionate force by the Ministry of Internal Affairs as professionalism by certain high officials can be perceived as a direct sanctioning of violence and calls on politicians to show more responsibility.
According to the Democracy Research Institute, forceful dispersal of assembly of citizens has acquired a systematic nature, which represents a significant step backwards on the path of the country's democratic development.
Law of Georgia on Assemblies and Manifestations, Article 2 (3).
For example, Oya Ataman v. Turkey, §§ 41-43
Eğitim ve Bilim Emekçileri Sendikası and Others v. Turkey, § 108