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‘Beyond the Lost Eye’ – presentation by GYLA focuses on dispersal of June 20-21 rallies

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Thursday, November 28
‘Beyond the Lost Eye’ is a report prepared by GYLA (Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association) regarding the events of June 20-21, which was presented on November 27.

The report evaluates the legitimacy and proportionality of the decision to disperse the protest rally on 20-21 June 2019, the cases of inhuman treatment, excessive use of force against journalists and interference with journalistic activities.

The report also analyzes the practice of imposing administrative detentions and judicial review of cases in connection with the events of June 20-21.

The protest which started after the Russian MP, member of the communist party, Sergei Gavrilov set in the chair of the Georgian Parliament’s Speaker, was dispersed at night. As government officials claim, the rally was dispersed because part of the protesters was trying to ‘get inside the building of the parliament.’

As a result of the dispersal were injured, some even lost their eyes. Police arrested some protesters, accusing them of ‘breaking the law.’

The night was followed by a huge backlash, and the report of GYLA represents one of the most critical reviews to date. As it reads, On June 20, the Ministry of Internal Affairs failed to properly manage the tense situation and did not properly resort to the resources of communication, negotiation, and dialogue, which raised questions regarding the legitimacy of the force used against protesters.

According to the report, the Ministry of Internal Affairs used force unlawfully and disproportionately. Along with the tear gas, the Interior Ministry illegally fired rubber bullets against protesters. The rubber bullets were allegedly used within the scope of wide discretion without prior permission and instructions, which once again indicates its unlawfulness.

The rubber bullets were applied against those who were not posing any danger. It has been also confirmed that law enforcers fired rubber bullets from a close range and in the direction of vital human organs.

Numerous cases of physical and verbal abuse by law enforcement officers were reported. Actions carried out by law enforcers equal to ill-treatment and, as GYLA says, the State is required to conduct an effective and impartial investigation in this regard.

The report of GYLA also focuses on the rights of media professionals and says that the right free expression, the right to the prohibition of inhuman treatment, and property rights were grossly violated. There were cases of interference with journalistic activities as well.

On 20-21 June, the Ministry of Interior massively applied administrative detentions against protesters. As a result, 342 persons were jailed, and 121 were subjected to the most severe sanction- administrative detention.

As GYLA suggests, the above-mentioned practice and its scale clearly show that the State retains the current Administrative Offences Code of Georgia as an instrument to unlawfully restrict the right to assembly and manifestation.

According to the agency, on 20-21 June, the MIA imposed administrative detentions indiscriminately without examining individual circumstances including against those persons who were not protesters and/or whose actions did not give rise to the grounds for administrative imprisonment.

The report goes as far as saying that imposing sanctions in the daytime and evening hours makes the impression that it was a pre-agreed and pre-arranged action by the judges rather than based on individual and independent consideration of cases.

GYLA works to establish the rule of law and protect human rights in all of its projects and activities, both at the individual and institutional levels. GYLA for years has been conducting monitoring within various projects.