We would like to respond to the events that developed on October 19, 2014, near the house of the Prime Minister of Georgia at the time of the peaceful protest during which seven participants of the protest, including a journalist of Tabula, were detained.
The right to assembly and manifestations is guaranteed by the Constitution for everyone. Everyone has the right to public assembly both indoors and outdoors without any prior permission. The authorities may only interfere with the exercise of the aforementioned right if the assembly assumes an illegal character.
The Law of Georgia on Assembly and Manifestations establishes that restriction of rights that are protected by law, together with other criteria, must be "proportionally restraining”, which obliges government bodies to apply the least restraining measure when interfering into the right of expression guaranteed by Article 24 of the Constitution of Georgia. "Stricter measures may only be applied when… it is impossible to achieve the protected good otherwise.”
Accordingly, if a fact of violation of law is revealed while an assembly-manifestation is being held, law enforcement bodies are obliged first to warn the organizer of the protect and, if the said measure fails to yield a result, only apply measures envisaged by international law and the legislation of Georgia.
The footage that has been disseminated clearly shows that the confrontation during the peaceful protest began after the appearance of third persons who assaulted the protect participants verbally.
The State is obliged to take all relevant measures not to allow unlawful interference into the exercise of the right to assembly and manifestations either by its own bodies or by private persons. In spite of this, representatives of law enforcement bodies took no measures to prevent insults towards the protect participants and, after the latter had responded, they only detained the protect participants. Thus, contrary to the requirements of the law, the police did not use other less restraining measures and, as soon as the protest participants responded to the aggression of the third persons, they immediately started detaining the demonstrators.
It is especially worrisome that representatives of the law enforcement body detained a photo correspondent ofTabulamagazine who was fulfilling his professional duty.
The signatory organizations condemn the fact of gross interference of the State into the exercise of the right to assembly and manifestations and the detention of the journalist and believe that such practice poses a danger to the State’s democratic development.