Statement on Alleged Abuse of Power by Police and Alleged Violence on Grounds of Ethnicity
The Public Defender responds to the media reports on alleged violence against G.G. and A.C. committed on the grounds of ethnicity by law enforcement agencies in Akhmeta municipality on January 23, 2016.
According to the victims, aggressive actions of law enforcement officers began after they found out that they were ethnic Kists. During the incident, law enforcement officers underlined the victims’ ethnic origin and abused them both physically and verbally. The victims allege that a chief of a regional division was one of the participants of the incident; he was very aggressive and was cursing them.
The Public Defender condemns any form of violence, especially when it is committed by state agencies, the primary duty of which is to protect citizens from violence. At the same time, the Public Defender expresses concern that the violence was allegedly motivated by the citizens’ ethnic origin, which contains signs of hate crime.
The Public Defender reminds law enforcement agencies that the state clearly expressed its policy with regard to the hate crime, when it imposed responsibility for the crime and introduced a special definition. Accordingly, if the crime is committed by a representative of law enforcement agencies, the state is responsible to prove that this policy is not just a paper. The state must use law so that even slightest suspicion of selective justice is not left.
The Public Defender also calls on the Chief Prosecutor's Office to conduct a timely and impartial investigation into the case. If the state shares Western values and strives for European integration, it is obliged to pursue strict policy against any form of violence on grounds of ethnic hatred.
Authorities should be intolerant with regard to the mentioned or other forms of racism, since similar facts can serve as an encouraging factor for ethnic tensions, minority oppression and racism.