DRI: Removal of activists' tents represents unjustified interference with demonstrators’ rights

Monitors of the Democracy Research Institute observed a rally held by members of the Giorgi Vashadze - Strategy Builder Party on October 5.

The purpose of the rally was to protest against the fine of up to GEL 100,000 imposed on the party by the Municipal Inspection of the City Hall and the rule of Kakhi Kaladze, who was accused by the organizers of the rally of corrupt deals and support for banking monopoly.

About 50 people took part in the rally. Up to 150 patrol and criminal police officers were mobilized around the City Hall building.

The rally started at about 1:00 pm and was going on in a calm atmosphere. However, the law enforcement officers blocked the City Hall entrance with iron barriers from the very beginning, so that the protesters were not allowed to enter the building. Many of the instructions of the law enforcement officials were imperfect and did not comply with the law. For example, when demonstrators wanted to leave an application at the Chancellery, one of the patrol inspectors checked the form of the application and the content and type of the attachment instead of an authorized employee of the City Hall.

Use of force and illegally detained demonstrators

The situation escalated after protesters set up party-branded tents on the sidewalks in the vicinity of the City Hall. In response, law enforcement officers began dismantling the tents and arrested two activists on the ground of disobeying a lawful request.[1] The officers also detained two demonstrators, including Paata Manjgaladze, who enjoys immunity under the Election Code and who was later released from the temporary detention isolator without presenting any document, which would legally assess his detention. Law enforcement officers also stopped detaining another person without any relevant documentation, after the latter felt bad and was provided medical assistance.

Use of light construction tents by demonstrators and the legality of sanctions

Police officers violently dismantled the light tents constructed by activists. The Municipal Inspection of the City Hall fined the party GEL 1000 for setting up the tents.[2]

Article 17 of the Constitution protects the right of a person to choose himself/herself the form, means and place of expression of opinion. In particular, it is enshrined in the law that a person has the right to express his/her opinion publicly and peacefully on the part of the street and in the form he/she deems appropriate. Opinions can be expressed not only through talking or making statements, but also in a silent form or by building temporary constructions.[3]

The Democracy Research Institute considers that in the given case, the removal of the protesters' tents by the patrol police and the imposition of a fine by the City Hall Municipal Inspection constituted an unjustified interference with the right of demonstrators to express and assemble and illegally restricted the demonstrators’ right to express their opinion publicly and peacefully in a form that they deemed appropriate and which was not contrary to law.

Accordingly, the Democracy Research Institute calls on:

The Ministry of Internal Affairs 

  • To protect the rights of demonstrators and ensure their effective realization within the law, in any form, including in verbal or written form, as well as by silent or other lawful action
  • Not to arrest demonstrators without legal grounds or justification


The Tbilisi Municipality City Hall 

  • To comply with the Law of Georgia on Assemblies and Demonstrations and stop fining peaceful demonstrators for using light construction tents
  • To abolish the administrative violation document drawn up by the Municipal Inspection for the arbitrary change of the appearance of Tbilisi Municipality by the political party - Giorgi Vashadze - Strategy Builder.


[1] Article 173 of the Administrative Offences Code of Georgia.

[2] Action referred to in the third part of Article 1503of the Administrative Offences Code of Georgia.

[3] Tbilisi Court of Appeal, ruling N3b/170-18 of February 9, 2018