Human Rights House Tbilisi express concern over the detention of human rights defenders peacefully protesting in front of the parliament of Georgia on 2 June 2023. We call on Georgian authorities to stop the practice of illegal and disproportionate use of administrative detentions, which has been increasingly used as a tool to repress defenders in recent period. 

On the night of June 2, the police illegally detained peacefully protesting in front of the parliament. Among detainees wereEduard Marikashvili, chairperson of Georgia’s Democracy Initiative and Saba Brachveli, representative of Open Society Foundation. The defenders have been released after 48-hour detention. Different video footages from eye witnesses and media shows that human rights defenders were peacefully gathering and holding paper banners, while the police arrested them in a “completely arbitrary, illegal and highly aggressive manner”

Unfortunately, this is not the first case when police disproportionately uses administrative fines & detentions against the rights defenders: during different rallies hundreds of activists have been detained and fined recently. Furthermore, recent actions by Georgian authorities challenging civil liberties and attacking critical voices, and the initiation of the “foreign agent bill” in February, are further examples of shrinking space for civil society organizations and an alarming trend.

We remind Georgia on its international obligations to protect freedom of expression and assembly (Article 10, ECHR). Furthermore, freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Georgian Constitution and Georgia’s law, which should be properly implemented. 

We call Georgian authorities: 

–       To immediately stop persecution against human rights defenders & activists and ensure their rights of freedom of expression & assembly are protected; 

–       To ensure safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders

–    To ensure the safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders, and to publicly support and appreciate their work. 

We call on the relevant state agencies to stop the practice of disproportionate and illegal use of administration detentions, stop repressing the activists and accept critical views, which is important for country’s democracy & development.