Watchdog Says Probes into July 5 Homophobic Pogroms Ineffective

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, a local human rights watchdog, has said investigations of possible crimes committed by far-right groups during July 5 homophobic pogroms is “ineffective” and “problematic.”

The organization noted on December 8 that despite the available evidence the prosecution has not yet identified organizers of group violence and persons who had publicly called for it.

Stressing that a large portion of the evidence is available to the investigators as possible crimes and perpetrators could be identified through public recordings, the watchdog asserted that in case of effective investigation and “with the proper will, the prosecution would be able to identify the organizers of the group violence and other persons involved.”

The GYLA, representing 19 victims of the far-right attack, said, the investigators have withheld part of the evidence, including information about those video recordings of the attacks, that could potentially reveal more suspects and officials might have requested from the media or individuals. The CSO said it had not received part of the case files related to the organizers of the group violence.

The watchdog noted that while 21 perpetrators, involved in crimes committed against seven of its clients, were charged and detained, in case of the other 12 victims, the investigation has yielded no results and has not launched proceedings against anyone.

Violence Against Media

Pointing to crimes committed against over 50 media workers during the day, GYLA said the authorities have not prevented attacks against journalists or attempts to interfere with their work and left the crimes without appropriate responses by conducting “ineffective” investigations.

“Such attitudes encourage violence, create a syndrome of impunity,” GYLA asserted. These crimes, the watchdog said, lead people to fear conduct professional activities, expressing one’s identity and views, that contravenes values of a democratic state.

GYLA reported that the Prosecution’s Office launched criminal proceedings against 31 individuals under using violence or threats of violence as they interfered with the journalist’s professional activities (Article 154(2)), persecuted people (Article 156(2)), violated inviolability of domicile or of any other property including in groups (Article 160(2a) and 3a); organized, managed or participated in group violence (Article 225(2)).

During the July 5 homophobic pogroms, as aggressive groups disrupted public order, committed hate crimes, violated the rights of the LGBTQI community, and interfered with media’s work, the state failed to take “appropriate measures to protect public safety and health,” GYLA also noted in its report.

The watchdog argued that the government violated its positive obligations. “Instead of advocating a tolerant, conciliatory position, statements by officials encouraged violence,” GYLA said.

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