News
DRI Statement on Sakulia incident
02.06.2021

The Democracy Research Institute (DRI) is responding to the use of firearms and special equipment by police during the arrest of I.M., born in 1992, in the village of Sakulia, Tskaltubo Municipality.[1]

DRI notes that the measures taken by the State against people protesting against the construction of the Namakhvani HPP have long gone beyond the constitutional framework and are limited to the protection of the private interest instead of the protection of public interest. Instead of a political and legal resolution of the case, the State uses the delegated powers against the interests and freedoms of individuals with specific views.

It is obvious that the Government is mobilizing police, information and administrative resources to discredit the people protesting against the construction of Namakhvani HPP. The use of repressive methods against the protesters’ fundamental rights was confirmed by the story told by a former law enforcement officer as well.[2]

The place chosen for the arrest of I.M., the time of the arrest, the context and the mobilization of a large number of police forces amid the protests indicate the improper planning and implementation of the operation and the use of disproportionate force.

The Democracy Research Institute explains that according to the Law of Georgia on Police, targeted shooting is considered an active use of firearms.[3] According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, police fired warning shots to defuse the confrontation.[4] At the same time, the statement did not specify what actions caused damages to the health of people involved in the incident or what danger referred to in the Law of Georgia on Police served as basis for the use of firearms as an extreme measure.

According to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent his or her escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives.

For the prevention of similar incidents, it is important to note that the Public Defender’s recommendation issued in 2018 relating to the equipment of the territorial bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with body cameras has not been fully implemented, which is one of the important guarantees of protection from ill-treatment.[5]

In view of all the above, the Democracy Research Institute calls on:

  • State Inspector's Service - to investigate alleged abuse of power by law enforcement officials during the arrest of I.M. in the village of Sakulia, Tskaltubo Municipality.
  • Ministry of Internal Affairs - to ensure maximum transparency of any measure restricting human rights and freedoms and introduce appropriate accountability mechanisms, especially in relation to cases where the measures used endanger human life and health.

 

[1] Statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of June 1, 2021, available at: https://police.ge/ge/shinagan-saqmeta-saministrom-politsielze-tavdaskhmis-braldebit-imeretshi-1-piri-daakava/14670

[2] “I quit the Imereti police and show solidarity with the guards of the Rioni Gorge"- police officer, available: https://netgazeti.ge/news/545602/?fbclid=IwAR130GKO4sDMf79DWkQdimnjSRonvow2IS-A4hifOf1G7L9mzVt3r34H3Q0

[3] Law of Georgia on Police, Article 34, Paragraph 4

[4] Statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of June 1, 2021, available: https://police.ge/ge/shinagan-saqmeta-saministros-gantskhadeba/14671

[5] 2018 Report of the Public Defender of Georgia, p. 68

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