CSOs Call for Granting Victim Status to People Injured in June 20-21 Dispersal
A group of 17 local civil society organizations, including Georgian Young Lawyers Association, Transparency International Georgia, Open Society Georgia Foundation and Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center called on the Prosecutor’s Office to grant victim status to the people who sustained injuries during the June 20-21 developments in Tbilisi, as well as to conduct “timely, comprehensive and impartial” investigation into the case.
In a statement released on November 5, the group noted that the Prosecutor’s Office granted victim status to 67 police officers and only to four civilians, refusing to grant victim status to the persons who sustained severe bodily injuries during the dispersal, among them Mako Gomuri and Giorgi Sulashvili.
The CSOs noted that although the Prosecutor’s Office confirms that these persons sustained injuries during the June 20-21 dispersal, it does not deem these injuries sufficient for granting them victim status and is waiting for the results of forensic examination.
The CSOs emphasized that under Georgian legislation, the Prosecutor’s Office has to grant victim status to a person who suffered any harm because of a criminal action, regardless of whether a perpetrator has been identified or not.
“The actions by court and the Prosecutor’s Office illustrates that the state does not want to recognize the harm civilians, including journalists, sustained from police officers during the June 20-21 developments,” the CSOs noted, adding that this “casts doubt on the entire process of investigation.”
Tensions mounted around 10pm Tbilisi time that night, when part of the protestors tried to break through the first cordon of the police, but were pushed back by the riot police.
240 people, including 80 police officers and over 30 journalists have been treated for injuries. Many severe injuries to civilians occurred later during the night after the police dispersed protestors through massive use of tear gas and rubber bullets, including so called “less-lethal” rounds.
Investigation into the fact of exceeding official powers by law enforcement officers was launched on June 24. Three police officers have been detained, charged with excessive use of force powers in connection with the June 20-21 developments; all of them have been released on bail later.
19 people have been charged with violence committed as a group, including Irakli Okruashvili, Georgia’s former defense minister and now leader of opposition movement, and Nika Melia, lawmaker of the United National Movement. Melia and three more protesters were released on bail. However, 15 other people, including Okruashvili, remain in custody.
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