GYLA Calls for Timely Investigation into Curfew Incident in Batumi

Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), a local watchdog, has called for “timely, effective and impartial” investigation into the incident that took place in a Black Sea coastal city of Batumi on April 2, where a Georgian citizen was reportedly insulted by police officers physically and verbally during the curfew, that Georgia observes between 21:00 to 06:00 until April 21.

In a statement released on April 5, GYLA noted that at about 23:45, the man went out to buy some medicines in a nearby pharmacy, but after failing to get desirable medicines in that drug-store, he asked a police officer for a permission to get to another pharmacy located on the other side of the street. GYLA said the man received a verbal consent from a police officer.

Soon after, another patrol police car arrived at the scene and although the man notified the patrol police that he had a verbal permission, he was forcibly put in the car and taken to the police station, where he was reportedly insulted verbally. GYLA said that police did not allow the person to contact a lawyer, citing the curfew as the reason.

One of the police officers verbally insulted the man and threatened him “to cut his head off,” GYLA noted. Watchdog added that later the man was charged with police disobedience and taken to the Batumi City Court.

GYLA stressed that the court considered the case without defense lawyer’s participation, finding the detainee guilty and imposing a GEL 1,000 fine on him. In addition, police officers also fined the man with GEL 3,000 for violating the curfew regulations.

The watchdog said that the state of emergency and the imposed restrictions could not justify inhuman and degrading treatment by police officers, as well as depriving the person of the right to defense.

Citing Article 15 of the European Convention of Human Rights, as well as Georgian Government’s decree #204 defining rules and exemptions of state of emergency, GYLA said state of emergency regulations and the curfew does not limit the person’s right to defense.

The organization called on the State Inspector Service to carry out effective, objective and impartial investigation into the actions of law enforcers and hold them accountable once apparent signs of a crime are revealed.

It also urged the Interior Minister to call on law enforcers for protecting the rights secured by the Georgian constitution and international treaties, as well as to take preventive measures to ensure that detainees are not restricted the right to defense.

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