DRI: The use of water cannon and tear gas is an illegal, unjustified and disproportionate measure

The Democracy Research Institute responds to the mobilization of an inadequately large number of special forces by the Ministry of Internal Affairs against demonstrators gathered in front of the Central Election Commission on November 8 and considers that the use of water cannons and tear gas against peaceful demonstrators had no legal basis and was illegal, unjustified and unequivocally disproportionate due to the non-violent nature of the rally and the number of protesters.

The Democracy Research Institute explains that according to the Law of Georgia on Police, tear gas and water cannon are active special equipment. Water cannon is used to prevent a mass violation of law and order, to repel a group attack on the state and/or public facility. Tear gas is used to repel an attack on a person, police officer and/or a protected facility, to prevent mass and group violations of law and order, to detain or coerce a person who has committed an offence or a publicly dangerous act.[1]

Police shall warn about the use of special equipment in advance and give demonstrators a reasonable time to comply with the legal demand.[2] In the given case, the materials transmitted by the observers of the Democracy Research Institute or the media did not show the need for the use of any special equipment. In addition, law enforcement officers took these measures without a prior warning at the initial stage.

Pursuant to the Law of Georgia on Assemblies and Demonstrations, an administrative body, in the vicinity of which an assembly or demonstration is being held, in order to avoid blocking of the building and obstruction of the activities of the body, has the right to restrict the assembly or demonstration within 20 meters radius.[3] In the given case,[4] this requirement of the law was not violated by the protesters. Consequently, given that the protest in the vicinity of the Central Election Commission was peaceful, the warning by police about dispersal and use of special equipment to "restore law and order and establish civil peace" could not provide the legal basis for the use of special equipment.

Given all the above, the Democracy Research Institute calls on the political officials of the authorities to:

  1. Be particularly cautious about the announcement of the use of the dispersal of the rally, as the above is perceived as a direct reference to the use of disproportionate force
  2. Immediately take all measures to defuse the situation and bring it within the constitutional framework
  3. Immediately launch an investigation into the cases of damages to health as a result of the use of disproportionate force.

On the opposition political parties to:

Show high public responsibility and avoid illegal calls.


[1] Law of Georgia on Police, Article 33.

[2] Article 31.3.

[3] Law of Georgia on Assemblies and Demonstrations, Article 9, paragraph 4.

[4] By the time of drawing up this statement (November 9, 00.30 am).