Matthew Jones, a representative of the Human Rights House Foundation, made an oral statement on behalf of the Human Rights House Tbilisi and the Foundation at the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Statement Concerns the handling of June 20-21 protest in Tbilisi and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials. 

Text of the statement:

Mr. Vice President,

Human Rights House Foundation and Human Rights House Tbilisi expresses concern at the recent handling of peaceful protests in Georgia.

On 20th of June, 10,000 protestors gathered in front of the Georgian Parliament in Tbilisi to peacefully protest. However, as a response to some protestors trying to enter the Parliament, security forces responded with indiscriminate use of rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons against protestors and bystanders alike.

240 people were transferred to medical facilities, at least two people were blinded, including an 18-year-old female. In addition, more than 30 journalists and media representatives were injured. The most serious injuries were caused by rubber bullets used by the police officers.

Mr. Vice President,

The excessive use of force by the police against the protestors was not warranted.

The lack of warning being given to protesters in advance of such weapons being used, and the use of rubber bullets to target vital organs of civilians, are just two of the obvious contraventions of the rights of protestors.

We urge Georgia to ensure that its security services do not use such methods of crowd control and that any use of force is only justifiable in exceptional circumstances, and governed by necessity and human rights norms.

We call on Georgia to carry out a thorough investigation into the rights violations and to ensure that freedom of association and assembly is assured for all Georgians in the future.

Thank you.