Public Defender’s Statement on Forced Transfer of L.O. to Drug Testing

On July 26, 2016, the Public Defender of Georgia was notified of forced transfer of L.O. to drug testing. L.O. was immediately visited by a Public Defender’s authorized representative. L.O. confirms in the record, drawn up by the Public Defender's representative, that on July 26, 2016, he was drinking coffee with friends in one of the cafes on Vaja Pshavela Avenue in Tbilisi, during which police officers arrested him for the purpose of drug testing under article 45 of the Administrative Offenses Code. He refused to provide biological material, however, according to the detainee, even though he was arrested by police at 11:15, he was still detained at the drug testing center at 15:00, at the time of meeting with the Public Defender's representative.

We welcome the fact that in about an hour from the visit of the Public Defender's representative, police released the detainee.

However, despite the results achieved, the mentioned fact proves that the so-called "street drug testing" is still a serious daily problem in Georgia, which violates the inviolability of citizens’ freedom, as well as the constitutional rights to privacy, human dignity and fair trial. Despite the Public Defender's repeated calls to eradicate similar facts, police still continues the vicious practice.

Transfer of an individual to drug testing without any grounds violates a number of legal guarantees. To combat this problem, the Public Defender of Georgia filed a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court as early as in 2015, in which he demanded declaration of the provision allowing law enforcers to arbitrarily subject individuals to drug testing as unconstitutional.

The Public Defender responded to the problem not only with the constitutional suit, but he also held meetings and a public debate with representatives of the non-governmental sector and state agencies.

According to the Public Defender, "repressive dug policy should be replaced with more humane drug policy and more resources should be directed to rehabilitation and treatment of individuals rather than to their punishment."

Once again, the Public Defender calls on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to abandon the established practice in order to prevent restrictions on the citizens’ freedom, privacy, dignity and the right to a fair trial.

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