UN Human Rights Chief Concerned by Reports of Disproportionate Use of Force Against Protesters

On May 2, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk issued a statement expressing concern over the reports of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials against citizens and media workers during recent protests against the foreign agents law, calling on the authorities to investigate allegations of ill-treatment during the protests, and urging on the Georgian authorities to withdraw the notorious law.

High Commissioner Türk says that the authorities must fully respect and protect the rights of the Georgian citizens to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. “Any restrictions to these rights must abide by principles of legality, necessity and proportionality,” the High Commissioner Türk stresses, adding that “the use of force during protests should always be exceptional and a measure of last resort when facing an imminent threat.”

UN Human Rights Chief calls on Georgian authorities to conduct “prompt and transparent” investigations into all cases of ill-treatment during or after protests or in detention. “All those who were detained arbitrarily for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must be released immediately,” the UN High Commissioner stresses, adding that they must also be cleared of any charges.

The UN High Commissioner also calls on the protesters to exercise their rights peacefully and not to resort to violence.

The High Commissioner calls on Georgian authorities to withdraw the foreign agents law and to engage in dialogue including with the CSOs and media outlets. “Labeling NGOs and media outlets receiving foreign funding as “organizations acting in the interest of a foreign power” poses serious threats to the rights to freedom of expression and association,” the statement concludes.

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