(Tbilisi, Civil Georgia, July 13, 2002) – The Georgian authorities must swiftly investigate and prosecute those responsible for the July 10 attack on the NGO Liberty Institute, Human Rights Watch reported on July 12.
“This is one of the most vicious assaults on human rights defenders we have ever seen in the former Soviet Union,” said Elizabeth Andersen, executive director of the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch.
“This attack shows that human rights defenders are at serious risk in Georgia,” she added.
Up to ten men broke into the offices of the Liberty Institute and have severely beaten six NGO members, including Levan Ramishvili and David Zurabishvili, leading activists of the Liberty Institute. Levan Ramishvili was hospitalized with multiple contusions, eye injuries and speech problems.
Human Rights Watch is calling for a thorough investigation and for the results of the investigation to be made public. It is also asking the Georgian government to take special measures to protect human rights defenders.
“Human Rights Watch urged the Georgian government to improve the climate for human rights organizations in Georgia. In recent months, the government has made moves that some view as hostile to the community of NGOs,” the Human Rights Watch statement says.