Public Defender Meets with Participants in Protests Held regarding Racha Forests
On November 20, 2023, Public Defender of Georgia Levan Ioseliani met with the participants in the protests held in front of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, who demand to set up tents on the premises of the Ministry.
According to the Public Defender, freedom of assembly and expression, which includes the possibility of placing a tent, must be protected within the law. In this case, it is not known what purpose the restriction of the placement of tents in the yard of the Ministry has, including how it will hinder the work of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture.
The situation of freedom of assembly and expression in the country will be necessarily reflected in the annual parliamentary report of the Public Defender.
It should be noted that representatives of the Public Defender’s Office visited the persons detained during the rally on the same day of the arrest, on November 18, and began to study the legality of the arrests.
The main reason for the protest is the 49-year license issued for the use of Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti forest massifs. Protesters are demanding the cancellation of the license. The Public Defender believes that the Ministry should hold a direct dialogue with the population and give a reasoned answer to the participants in the rally and other stakeholders regarding its decision.
The Public Defender, as a body supervising the right to environmental protection, will monitor the developments around the forests.