DRI: Detainees “Severely Beaten” During Foreign Agent Law Protests

Twelve of the 13 protesters detained by the police during the April 16-17 protests against the “foreign influence” law were “severely beaten,” according to the monitoring of the Democracy Research Institute (DRI), a watchdog.

“The detainees have serious body injuries, including concussions, traumatic arthritis of the jaw, injuries to upper and lower limbs, multiple bruises, contusions, cuts, lacerations,” the DRI said in its April 19 statement. The DRI also said that two of the detainees remain hospitalized in serious condition. The watchdog added that people’s personal belongings were lost or damaged during the arrests, which were carried out with “unlawful and illegitimate” use of force by the riot police.

The DRI also noted that the detentions were routinely extended from 24 to 48 hours, which “served the purpose of punishing the demonstrators, prolonging the severe physical pain inflicted on them and/or an attempt to hide their injuries from society.” The Code of Administrative Offenses of Georgia authorizes the exceptional extension of the 24-hour detention period before the detainee is presented to the court if more time is required to find evidence.

DRI said the detainees’ rights under multiple articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, such as “Article 3 (prohibition of torture), Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 10 (freedom of expression), and Article 11 (right to assembly and association)” were violated and called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Tbilisi City Court and the Special Investigative Service to take appropriate actions:

  • Ministry of Internal Affairs – to stop the illegal arrests of the assembly participants and to fulfill its obligation to ensure the protection of the assembly participants;
  • Tbilisi City Court – to stop proceedings against the peaceful demonstrators and to declare the illegality of their detention, as the publicly distributed video footage proves the improper treatment of the demonstrators;
  • Special Investigative Service – to investigate the facts of violence and abuse of power by the MIA representatives objectively and within a reasonable time and to grant the illegally detained demonstrators the status of victims within the framework of the investigation.

Georgian Public Defender Levan Ioseliani also met with 32 detainees during the April 15-17 protests against the Foreign Agents Law. According to Ioseliani, “about half of them” had physical injuries. He said that in the 15 cases, the complaints had been sent to the Special Investigative Service to open the investigations.

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