Public Defender Applies to Court relating to Cases of Protesters Detained on June 2
The Public Defender of Georgia believes that declaring citizens detained in front of the Parliament of Georgia on June 2, 2023 as lawbreakers will result in an unjustified interference with freedom of assembly and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia, which, in turn, will create a danger that peaceful and non-violent behavior aimed at expressing protest may be qualified as a violation of law in the future.
Thus, on June 2, the Public Defender applied to Tbilisi City Court with the opinion of the friend of the court (amicus curiae) relating to five cases (the cases of Saba Brachveli, Eduard Marikashvili, Nika Romanadze, Grigol Frangishvili and Nodar Sikharulidze) and submitted information about international standards, judgements of the European Court and the practice of the Constitutional Court.
In all five cases, the Public Defender’s Office studied and evaluated in detail the materials presented by the defence, as well as publicly released video footage.
The analysis of the materials clearly revealed that the actions of the above-mentioned participants in the rally were completely non-violent. They did not show aggression towards law enforcement officers or passers-by, did not obstruct the movement of transport or citizens, did not block the entrance to the building, etc. Considering all of this, the Public Defender focused on the importance of the evaluation of a particular circumstance by the court, namely whether the use of various means of expression by the people participating in the assembly could cause even a minimal violation of public order or create the composition of an administrative offence.
The Public Defender emphasizes once again that freedom of expression protects not only information and ideas that the public shares or is indifferent to, but also those that are shocking or disturbing for the state or any group of the society. It is also significant that messages of political content enjoy special protection. Therefore, it is completely unacceptable for law enforcement officers to interfere with the rights of assembly participants just because of the style they chose to express their protest.
The Public Defender hopes that the opinions of the friend of the court will help the court to correctly assess the issues under consideration and the legal proceedings will be conducted in accordance with the principles established by the practice of the Constitutional Court of Georgia and the European Court of Human Rights.
The Public Defender’s Office, after getting access to the relevant full materials, will continue to study the cases of other detained protesters as well.