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CSOs: Court Hearings on Detained Protesters Marred by Violations

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A group of 16 civil society organizations, including Transparency International Georgia, Georgian Democracy Initiative, Georgian Young Lawyers Associations and Human Rights and Monitoring Center, released a joint statement on November 21, saying that the judge presiding over the cases of 37 people detained during the November 18 protests “neglected legal requirements, was biased and restricted the detainees’ rights.”

The local human rights organizations pointed at the following violations against the detained protesters:

  • Only one judge, Valeriane Pilishvili was instructed to consider the cases that, along with other circumstances, triggered unreasonable delays in the cases and rough violation of detainees’ rights;
  •  Due to late beginning of trials, the detention timeframes set by legislation were violated and part of detainees were restricted of their freedom illegally on November 19;
  • During consideration, the judge was unilaterally restricting the defense lawyers’ possibilities to fully protect the rights of protesters;
  • Defense lawyers were given unreasonably little amount of time to familiarize themselves with case materials and obtaining evidence;
  • In some cases, defense lawyers were given only two minutes to present their positions;
  • Police actually failed to provide proper evidence;
  • In video footages presented as evidence, police officers failed to identify the detainees;
  • In one instance, a police office said that he had not seen a video evidence;
  • The judge ceased the hearing for several times and went out for unknown reasons, apparently for receiving instructions;
  • The judge used unclear logic in sentencing administrative detention to the protesters. Punishment was especially strict against the organizers of the rally.

The CSOs noted that the court hearing was “biased” and “politicized.” “Since the court rarely uses imprisonment as a type of administrative punishment, the rulings made against activists aim at weakening protests that may have a negative effect on freedom of assembly and expression in the future,” the group said.

The CSOs called on Georgian Dream and its chairman, Bidzina Ivanishvili “to stop persecution of activists and political opponents and refuse using the state institutions for narrow partisan interests.”

Police arrested 37 protesters on administrative charges after dispersal of the November 18 rally outside the Parliament building.

Following two-day considerations, the judge sentenced 10 people to administrative detention, also imposed a GEL 1,000 fine on one person and gave a verbal warning to another.

As for the remaining 25 people, the judge postponed consideration citing lack of time.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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