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Amnesty International Condemns Police Actions During Protests in Tbilisi

By Liza Mchedlidze
Friday, April 19, 2024
The human rights group Amnesty International has strongly criticized the police response to the ongoing protests in Georgia against the proposed 'Foreign Agents' law. The organisation described the police intervention during a peaceful demonstration in Tbilisi as a "brutal retribution against people for exercising their right to protest peacefully."

According to their statement, the authorities are behaving as though it is their prerogative to decide the appropriateness of public demonstrations, using riot police to disperse crowds and arbitrarily arrest protesters with undue force. Reports indicate that police chased, surrounded, and severely beat fleeing protestors, raising serious human rights concerns.

Amnesty International has called for a swift, impartial, and thorough investigation into the use of force by police, insisting on accountability for any unlawful actions. The organization has also reiterated the importance of the right to peaceful assembly, urging the Georgian government to adhere to international human rights obligations.

Furthermore, Amnesty International has renewed its call for the Georgian authorities to abandon the controversial bill "On transparency of foreign influence." The organisation wrote that the bill aims to undermine the freedom of association and unduly restricts and discredits independent civil society organizations and their operations.

"What we witnessed in Tbilisi yesterday was a brutal retribution against people for exercising their right to protest peacefully. The authorities act as if it is their prerogative to decide when people can or cannot protest and deploy riot police to disperse and arbitrarily arrest the protestors using violence. On several occasions, police were seen chasing and hitting fleeing protestors with truncheons, surrounding and beating them mercilessly while on the ground."

"Instead of facilitating a peaceful demonstration, the police have carried out what appears to be a punishment operation. We urge a swift, impartial and thorough investigation into all instances of force used, and accountability for those found responsible of unlawful use of force. We also remind the Georgian authorities that the right to peaceful assembly is fundamental, and the government of Georgia must comply with the country's international human rights obligations.

"Amnesty International also reiterates its call to drop the bill "On transparency of foreign influence," which seeks to restrict the right to freedom of association and is clearly intended to smear and restrict independent civil society organisations and curb their activities," the statement reads.