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DRI: Police Actions Illegal and Disproportionate

On May 13, the Democracy Research Institute, a local watchdog, said the facts of physical retaliation by the police against the peaceful rally participants cannot be considered “legal police measures,” and called on the ruling Georgian Dream party “to return to the constitutional framework” and to reject the foreign agents bill.

According to the DRI, the rally at the Parliament never turned violent, and the protesters did not intend to block the Parliament’s entrances. The watchdog observes that despite the peaceful nature of the protest, the police still used force, clearing the area around Zhvania street near the Parliament, and detained twenty people. “It can be seen from the videos that have been circulated that at the moment of arrests that the law enforcement officers are physically assaulting the demonstrators and hitting them on the head in retaliation.”

According to the watchdog, the manner in which the police arrested the demonstrators “was illegal and disproportionate – dozens of law enforcement officers, most of whom were not patrol police based on their clothing and equipment, physically assaulted the targeted demonstrators and dragged them into the police cordon. Most of the detainees visited by lawyers from public organizations display signs of serious physical injuries.”

“Sanctioning and impunity for illegal violent police tactics increases the scale of illegal violence and aims to suppress the momentum of protest,” the watchdog said, and called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs “to be guided in its activities solely by the principles of protection and respect for basic human rights and freedoms, legality and political neutrality.”

The DRI also called on the Special Investigation Service “to immediately and effectively investigate the facts of the abuse of authority by the law enforcement officers, both on the morning of May 13 and during the past days.”

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