Public Defender Responds to Events Developing in front of Parliament of Georgia

The Public Defender is responding to the events developing in front of the Parliament building, where activists are not allowed by police officers to put up tents. The clashes resulted in the arrest of over 20 activists.

The Public Defender of Georgia has repeatedly responded to the restrictions on the placement of tents by demonstrators, explaining that the erection of such temporary constructions is protected by freedom of assembly and deprivation of this opportunity is unjustified unless the tent blocks a building or traffic.[1] No such danger is evident on the wide sidewalk in front of the Parliament building and the possession of tents does not create any risk of commission of illegal actions by their owners in the given case.

The possibility of putting up tents and other non-permanent constructions as part of a demonstration is emphasized in the OSCE Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly.[2] The opportunity of putting up a tent is recognized by the national court as well.[3]

Given that such unjustified interference with freedom of assembly had been systemic in recent years, the Public Defender applied to the Constitutional Court in 2018.[4] Since then, the Ministry of Internal Affairs had not interfered with the right of demonstrators to put up tents, but unfortunately, they have recently started to take similar illegal measures again.

It is also noteworthy that according to the released footage, the area around the Parliament is cordoned off by the police, which represents an unjustified restriction on the right to assembly in public space and contradicts the positive obligations of the State to ensure the full realization of this right.[5] At the same time, the Public Defender emphasizes that the police are obliged to refrain from artificially escalating the situation during assembly and should instead negotiate and enter into dialogue with demonstrators in order to avoid the risks of confrontation.

[1] See the statements of the Public Defender at: <>, <>, <>, <https: // bit. ly / 3qzv5fa> [19.02.2021]; See also the Parliamentary Report of the Public Defender 2018, pp. 159-160, available at: <> [19.02.2021].

[2] OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission); Guidelines on Freedom of Assembly, Second Edition, 2010, para. 18-19, p. 30-31. Available at: <> [19.02.2021].

[3] See the statement of the Public Defender, available at: <> [19.02.2021].

[4] See the statement of the Public Defender, available at: <> [19.02.2021].

[5] See the 2019 Special Report of the Public Defender of Georgia on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly (Sphere Protected by the Right and the Standard of Management of Assembly), p. 34-36, available at: <> [19.02.2021].

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