Asked whether the U.S. is considering sanctions for Georgian officials over the anti-LGBT violence in Tbilisi on July 5th, which left at least 53 journalists attacked, and was followed by the death of one of the attacked journalists, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said “we have a number of tools to hold accountable those responsible in some way for human rights abuses, for violence around the world. Sanctions are indeed one of those tools.”
“We don’t preview sanctions before we enact them,” the Spokesperson asserted, adding that “but we are following the situation very closely, and we are committed to seeing to it that those responsible for this are held accountable.”
The State Department Spokesperson said U.S. urges all political actors in Georgia to very publicly condemn this violence. “When it comes to the Georgian Government, I would reiterate our calls for a thorough investigation of this that leads to the perpetrators of this horrific crime being brought to justice,” he noted.
Speaking about the death of journalist Aleksandre Lashkarava in the aftermath of anti-LGBT attack, the Spokesperson said “we’re closely following the reports concerning his death.”
“The safety of every Georgian journalist and the credibility of democracy in Georgia, in fact, require that every individual who attacked peaceful protesters and journalists on July 5th and 6th or those who incited violence – they must be identified; they should be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he said.
Ned Price further reminded Georgian leaders and the law enforcement bodies of their “responsibility to protect all of those exercising their constitutional rights.” “We remind them of their responsibility to protect journalists exercising the freedom… of the press. And we encourage all Georgians, including Georgian officials, to publicly condemn this type of violence that has no place in a democracy.”
The State Department Spokesperson also said the U.S. proudly advances efforts to protect LGBT+ communities from violence and abuse, criminalization, discrimination, and stigma and seeks to empower local LGBT+ movements and persons. “We firmly oppose abuses against the LGBTQI+ community and, of course, in this case, the brutal violence against your former colleague, your now deceased colleague.”