Police Criticized for 'Use of Excessive Force'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 26 May.'11 / 15:19
Human rights groups said riot police used “excessive” and “disproportionate” force against protesters while dispersing a rally in Tbilisi shortly after midnight on May 26.

Georgian Public Defender, Giorgi Tugushi, said on May 26, that although the rally “went beyond the norms established by the Georgian legislature” and there was a legal ground for dispersing it, police used “disproportionate” force.

“The use of disproportionate force was especially obvious, when in certain cases the law enforcement officers were physically insulting and in certain cases detaining those protesters, who were not putting any resistance to the police,” Tugushi said.

He said, that “signs of crime are obvious” and the prosecutor’s office should effectively and promptly investigate those cases.

Human Rights Watch also called on the Georgian authorities on May 26, the Georgian authorities should launch “an immediate, thorough, and impartial investigation into excessive and disproportionate use of force.”

"Even if the Tbilisi demonstration was unauthorized, nothing can justify the beating of largely peaceful demonstrators," said Rachel Denber, Europe and Central Asia deputy director at Human Rights Watch. "Police responsible for beating protesters should be held to account."

She said that the authorities took a positive step in offering protesters alternative venues for holding the rally.
“But police should never have resorted to beating protesters who posed no threat,” she said.

Similar position was voiced by Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association and Transparency International Georgia. The two watchdog groups said in a joint statement that excessive use of force by the police “could not be left without legal assessment and adequate investigation.”

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) co-rapporteurs for Georgia, Kastriot Islami and Michael Aastrup Jensen, expressed concern over reports of disproportionate and excessive use of force by the police.

Without putting into question legitimate basis for the authorities’ decision to disperse the protesters, the co-rapporteurs on Georgia said that the authorities should “fully, credibly and transparently investigate” reported excessive use of force.

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