Georgian Authorities Have Failed to Uphold Citizens’ Constitutional Rights

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) voices its concern over the ongoing violent protest on Rustaveli Avenue and other locations in Tbilisi, the participants of which are physically assaulting journalists and are expressing aggression.

Aggressive gathering of religious and radical extremist groups in several areas in Tbilisi is taking place in the context of open hatred and threats. Participants of violent rallies physically attacked journalists and camera operators from various media outlets; they attacked the office of the Tbilisi Pride and attempted to attack the office of the Shame Movement. Against this backdrop, participants of the March of Honor have been deprived of their constitutional right to peaceful assembly and expression.  

The law enforcement agencies did not effectively prevent the cases of violence in the streets of Tbilisi, and instead of calming the situation, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, said at the government meeting today that he considers it unreasonable to hold the March of Honor and linked the event to “revanchist, radical” political forces. Therefore, the Prime Minister’s statement encouraged violent groups, endangering the safety of dozens of journalists and activists.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, investigations have been launched on charges of illegal interference in journalists’ professional activities, as well as violence and damage to other people’s property. However, so far, there have been no reports of the arrest of offenders.

It is clear that state institutions have failed to uphold the rights of citizens guaranteed by the constitution, which is why the organizers of the Pride Week had to postpone the announced peaceful assembly today.

We call on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to immediately address the acts of violence in the streets of Tbilisi and to investigate the instances of attacks on journalists and the offices of civil society organizations in a timely manner.