We, the under-signatory non-governmental organizations, echo the insulting and degrading treatment of Giga Makarashvili, independent activist, from the side of Teimuraz Manvelishvili, the head of the legal department of the Gori Municipal Administration. We call on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to timely and effectively investigate this fact.
It is particularly alarming that although the public servant committed the violence act, Teimuraz Manvelishvili has not been resigned yet. Consequently, we request to start disciplinary proceedings against Manvelishvili, as a public servant, and to immediately dismiss him from his current position.
On October 10, 2018, civil activist Giga Makarashvili, together with his counterparts, held peaceful protest demonstration in front of the Gori Municipality. The activists protested the statement of Gori Mayor Konstantine Tavzarashvili, who blamed the State of Georgia in launching the August War. According to Giga Makarashvili, the activists requested an apology from the mayor and held a performance – they threw wheat corn and manure in front of the Gori Municipalit. After the demonstration was over, the activists were cleaning the territory, when the head of the legal service Teimuraz Manvelishvili suddenly attacked Giga Makarashvili and put the bin full with manure over his head. The incident was accidentally recorded by one of the TV-companies and later it went viral in social network.
The investigation started under Article 126 (1) of the Criminal Code of Georgia (beating or other form of violence, which caused physical pain of a victim) that, in the opinion of the signatory organizations, is not correct qualification of the case. We request from the MIA to change the qualification of the case and continue investigation in accordance to the Article 1443 Part 2 (a) of the Criminal Code of Georgia (degrading treatment committed by the civil servant) and Article 161 Part 1 of the CCG (encroachment by violence upon the right to assembly or of the demonstration). It is evident that Teimuraz Manvelishvili aimed to punish and degrade Giga Makarashvili and this negatively impacted the psychological state of the latter. Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association is defending the rights of Giga Makarashvili in court. Until now, he does not have the status of the victim and it hinders him to get information about the ongoing investigation.
It is noteworthy that in the course of investigation Teimuraz Manvelishvili was not questioned yet and he still occupies the position in the Gori Municipality regardless the video-recording of the incident, where he committed violence against a citizen.
In accordance to the Article 78 of the Law of Georgia on Public Service, disciplinary misconduct is: c) “an action (guilty behavior) violating general moral norms or discrediting the civil servant or the agency, no matter whether it is committed at work or outside of work.”
The under-signatory organizations condemn interference of the public servant in the peaceful manifestation. Right to assembly and manifestation is guaranteed under the Article 25 of the Constitution of Georgia and it is particularly important right in a democratic state, as one of the forms of freedom of expression. At the same time, we are alarmed with recent statements of senior government officials which aim to discredit human rights organizations and human rights defenders. The above-stated incident and aggressive rhetoric of the government representatives undermines the work of independent activists and human rights defenders and encourages violence against them.
We would like to express our solidarity to Giga Makarashvili and call on:
The Ministry of Internal Affairs:
- To adequately, timely, impartially and effectively investigate the incident;
- To change the qualification of the case into Article 1443 Part 2 (a) and Article 161 Part I of the CCG;
- To timely grant victim status to Giga Makarashvili;
Gori Mayor Konstaine Tavzarashvili:
- To start disciplinary proceedings against Teimuraz Manvelishvili and resign him from the position;
Prime Minister of Georgia, Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia:
- To stop discrediting of the non-governmental organizations, human rights defenders, activists, civil society representatives and their work. To ensure prompt and adequate response to all facts of violence and humiliation against them.
- Human Rights House Tbilisi (HRHT)
- Georgian Young Lawyers’ association (GYLA)
- Human Rights Center (HRIDC)
- Article 42 of the Constitution
- Media Institute
- Georgian Center for Psycho-Social and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT)
- Equality Movement
- Center Empathy
- Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
- Transparency International – Georgia (TI)
- Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
- International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
- Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)