GDI Condemns Police Prevention of the Peaceful Protest of Beka Grigoriadis

Georgian Democracy Initiative, a non-governmental organization, issued a response on May 30 to condemn the “severe” infringement on the freedom of expression and assembly by the police against Beka Grigoriadis, the father of Lazare Grigoriadis. The organization urges the Ministry of Internal Affairs to uphold the human right to establish a tent on the sidewalk or in the square during peaceful protests.

GDI stated that media reports a video recording, which shows that the police prevented Beka Grigoriadis from setting up a tent behind the parliament for a peaceful protest. The Ministry representatives allegedly seized Beka Grigoriadis’s tent using force.

The organization highlights that the Georgian Constitution safeguards the freedom of assembly and expression, enabling citizens to peacefully voice their dissent and protest. GDI notes: “The use of tents during protests has historically been an effective way for activists to attract public attention and express their protest”.

In addition, the organization points out that according to the “Law of Georgia on Assemblies and Demonstrations“, the placement of a tent, structure, or object on a roadway that obstructs traffic or hinders access to a building is prohibited:

Article 11(1), Clause 4: “It shall be prohibited to artificially block the traffic roadway unless it is required because of the number of participants of the assembly or demonstration. Also, it shall be prohibited to block the traffic roadway by cars, various structures and/or items”.

However, video evidence reveals that the participants of the rally planned to set up a tent, not on the road, but in the area next to the parliament. “The law does not prohibit the placement of a tent on the sidewalk during a meeting or demonstration, in the place of pedestrians, expressing protest by pitching a tent on the sidewalk is not an act prohibited by law, but is an integral part of the constitutional right to assembly and demonstration. Placing a tent on the sidewalk is part of a constitutional right, as long as it does not paralyze an administrative body or interfere with its normal activities,” – notes GDI.

Consequently, the “Georgian Democracy Initiative” states that the police’s confiscation of the protestors’ tent is considered illegal and appears to be a deliberate attempt to restrict the freedom of assembly and expression.

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