Annual Report: Georgia 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Georgia 2010

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Freedom of assembly

Supporters of the opposition were allegedly harassed, intimidated and beaten by unidentified masked men during demonstrations between April and July. Reports stated that police officers stood by without intervening while some of these incidents took place, raising concerns about the authorities' failure to protect demonstrators and to ensure the right to freedom of assembly. While investigations were initiated into some of the reported incidents, the authorities failed to carry out full and impartial investigations and to bring those responsible to justice.

Changes to the law regulating the right to assembly and to hold demonstrations, enacted in June, set stringent penalties human rights activists feared could be used to restrict the right to freedom of assembly.

Excessive use of force

On 6 May, police officers reportedly fired impact projectiles at opposition demonstrators in a reckless manner during a violent confrontation outside the police headquarters in Tbilisi, which resulted in several people sustaining head injuries. In another incident on 15 June, police officers reportedly dispersed peaceful opposition protesters outside the Tbilisi police headquarters with excessive force, attacking the protesters using batons without any warning or prior warnings to disperse. Seventeen protesters sought medical assistance in hospital to have their wounds treated; two were hospitalized due to severe injuries. Among those injured was a representative of the Ombudsman's office who was allegedly detained and beaten by police officers. By the end of the year the authorities had failed to conduct open, independent and full investigations into both incidents.

Freedom of expression

Journalists covering the demonstrations between April and June reportedly faced harassment and violence from both the authorities and opposition supporters. According to witnesses, on 15 June, police officers assaulted a number of journalists during the dispersal of an opposition protest and confiscated their audiovisual equipment. In some instances, tapes containing footage of the incident were not returned; in other cases parts of the tapes were missing.

Before and during these demonstrations, a large number of opposition activists were arrested on charges of possession of drugs and arms. The Ombudsman as well as human rights NGOs voiced concern that some might have been arrested because of their political activities and that their trials failed to meet international fair trial standards.

Amnesty International visits/reports

Amnesty International delegates visited Georgia in June and November

Civilians in the aftermath of war: The Georgia-Russia conflict one year on (7 August 2009)
South Caucasus: Promptly adopt and enforce legislation on domestic violence (25 September 2009)
Georgia: Police reportedly use excessive force against the demonstrators (23 June 2009)