July 5 Violence Organizers Not Identified, Ombudsperson Says
Public Defender of Georgia stated that law enforcement agencies have not yet identified and taken appropriate measures to bring to justice the organizers of July 5-6 homophobic pogroms, which resulted in attacks on more than 50 journalists.
This creates a “syndrome of impunity,” stressed Ombudsperson Nino Lomjaria in her July 27 statement.
The Ombudsperson argued that since the July 5 violence spree, physical and verbal abuse against media journalists, and obstruction of their activities has “become, virtually, a daily activity.”
The statement highlighted that these circumstances “endanger” journalistic activities, and could lead to self-censorship among news professionals due to safety risks.
Georgian officials often exhibit a “disrespectful” attitude towards journalists and “politically justify” the attacks, instead of condemning them, the Ombudsperson asserted.
The statement noted that the officials “have a special role and responsibility” in this issue, as the public has “become highly polarized and increasingly intolerant of dissenting opinion.”
Far-right groups had called a counter-rally to the July 5 Pride March, canceled subsequently due to lack of safety guarantees, in the weeks ahead of the event.
Key figures spearheading the counterprotests, Guram Palavandishvili, the founder of Society for Children’s Rights, and five anchors of Kremlin-friendly alt-right outlet Alt-Info TV were all questioned on July 16, and then let go from police stations. Officers also searched their houses.
Law enforcement authorities have not clarified if the persons are under investigation over allegations of organizing the group violence that erupted during the counter-rallies.
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