Public Defender Echoes Use of Special Equipment for Dispersal of Peaceful Assembly

The Public Defender of Georgia is echoing the use of special equipment for the dispersal of the peaceful assembly on April 30.

The Public Defender of Georgia emphasizes that freedom of peaceful assembly is enshrined in the Constitution of Georgia. According to the definition of the UN Human Rights Committee, “violence” entails the use of physical force by participants in an assembly, which is likely to result in injury or death, or serious damage to property. Mere pushing and shoving do not amount to “violence”. At the same time, it is important to note that acts of verbal or physical aggression or violence by individuals or a small group of individuals do not invalidate the freedom of assembly of people who continue to behave peacefully. In such cases, any kind of intervention should be aimed at responding to the violent actions of specific individuals, not at dispersing the entire assembly.

According to the Public Defender, at the time of the warning issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia on April 30, 2024, at 23:36, and even now, the rally has a peaceful character and there is no reason to stop it or use force against it. As for the participants in the assembly, in case of going beyond the scope of the peaceful assembly, individual - necessary and proportionate measures should have been taken against them. Contrary to this, the law enforcement officers started using special equipment against participants in the assembly, including peaceful demonstrators, which contradicts the standard of necessary and proportionate interference with the right.

The Public Defender calls on the investigative agencies to conduct an effective investigation into the cases of the use of disproportionate force, as well as the injuries sustained by representatives of the media.

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