Civil society organizations respond to the trend of illegal restriction of the freedom of assembly and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia, another example of which is the violation of the rights of Beka Grigoriadis. The police continue to illegally prevent citizens from putting up their tents during acts of protest, attack citizens and seize their property.
On May 28, Beka Grigoriadis, the father of Lazare Grigoriadis, the participant in the act of protest against Russian law, started an ongoing protest in the Oliver and Marjorie Wardrop Square adjacent to the building of the Parliament of Georgia, which is more than 20 meters away from that building.
That same evening, Beka Grigoriadis tried to put up a tent in the square, but several police officers mobilized on the ground immediately attacked him and took away the tent. Beka Grigoriadis and his supporters tried to set up a tent in the square also the next day – May 29, but the police officers did not allow them to do so using the same violent methods. During the incident, a civil activist, Bezhan Tsvimitidze, who was recording the unlawful actions of the police on his mobile phone, was detained.
During the act of protest undertaken by Beka Grigoriadis, the special goal of the police was to prevent the participants of the act from putting up their tents. Before putting up the tent and seizing it, the police officers did not warn the citizens not to put up the tent. In addition, when seizing the tent as property, the police did not provide Beka Grigoriadis with explanations with regard to the procedure for its seizure and subsequent return.
The Constitution of Georgia guarantees freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. The authorities have the right to stop the assembly only if such assembly becomes unlawful. When exercising this right, citizens may express their protest against any issue, publicly and unarmed, both indoors and in places of public gatherings. They have the right to use the tent and place it in the square or other public places.
The legislation of Georgia does not impose any kind of restrictions with regard to the putting up of the tent There is no legal ground that would prohibit placing a tent in the square. According to the Law of Georgia “On Assemblies and Manifestations”, it is forbidden to place a tent only in the section of the road where vehicles are moving. It is not prohibited by law to put up a tent in the square or in such a place that does not pose a danger of blocking the section of the road where vehicles are moving, or paralyzing an administrative building. Therefore, the prohibition of putting up of a tent in the square is unlawful.
According to civil society organizations, the seizure of the tent from Beka Grigoriadis and the use of disproportionate force during this procedure have unlawfully restricted the freedom of assembly and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia. However, such an action was not a necessity for a democratic society, and a proportionally restrictive measure was not applied to restrict the right, as provided for by the Constitution of Georgia and the Law of Georgia “On Assemblies and Manifestations”.
We call on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to stop the practice of unlawful restriction of the freedom of assembly and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia.
- The Human Rights Center,
- Center for Social Justice,
- Open Society Georgia Foundation,
- Georgian Democracy Initiative,
- Transparency International Georgia,
- Georgian Young Lawyers Association,
- Georgian Court Watch,
- Democracy Defenders,
- Media Institute,
- Women’s Initiatives Support Group, WISG