Georgia: End arbitrary prosecutions and protect freedom of expression

Georgian law enforcement authorities arbitrarily arrested seven activists peacefully exercising their right to protest in front of the parliament building in capital Tbilisi on June 2, 2023. Four human rights groups condemn these arbitrary arrests as they directly infringe upon the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly. The signatory organisations demand an immediate and unequivocal cessation of the administrative harassment of protesters and call on the Georgian authorities to protect freedom of expression in the country in line with the country’s international obligations.

On June 2, 2023, a peaceful protest took place in front of the parliament building in the capital Tbilisi, organised by the Georgian civil society group GEUT (‘stubborn’). The activists were holding paper banners, calling for the respect of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and expressing their criticism against the Georgian authorities. In response to the action, police arbitrarily arrested at least seven protesters, including four human rights defenders: Saba Brachveli, lawyer and employee of the Open Society Foundation; Eduard Marikashvili, Chairperson of the Georgian Democracy Initiative; Nika Romanadze, civil society activist; and Shota Tutberidze, lawyer of the Tolerance and Diversity Institute. Police also detained at least three more civil society leaders, including Levan Nishnianidze, – member of the “Girchi-More Freedom” party.

Among the seven detainees, one was holding a copy of the Georgian constitution, and another was holding a blank sheet of paper at the protest action. Some protesters were holding banners where they modified the first name of Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, resulting in a pronunciation that resembled an inappropriate word. The police damaged or confiscated these banners during the arrests, used excessive force, and failed to provide the grounds for detentions, as well as to explain detainees their rights. Moreover, the lawyers of the detainees were not informed about the whereabouts of their clients and were not allowed to see them in the first hours following their arrest.

Marikashvili, Romanadze and Brachveli were taken to Telavi’s temporary detention facility, while others were held in the detention facility in Dusheti. Authorities released Marikashvili, Romanadze and Brachveli after 48 hours of pretrial detention – the maximum term allowed by the legislation – while the remaining detainees were released several (GEORGIAN) (FRANCAIS) (RUSSIAN)




Georgia: End arbitrary prosecutions and protect freedom of expression