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Comment By UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk On The Protests In Georgia

Published: Fri 3 May 2024 04:44 AM
Geneva, 2 May 2024
I am concerned by reports of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force by law enforcement personnel against demonstrators and media workers in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi this week.
Thousands of Georgians have been protesting for days against the draft Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence, and authorities must fully respect and protect their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Any restrictions to these rights must abide by principles of legality, necessity and proportionality. The use of force during protests should always be exceptional and a measure of last resort when facing an imminent threat.
I call on the authorities to conduct prompt and transparent investigations into all allegations of ill-treatment during or after protests or in detention. All those who were detained arbitrarily for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must be released immediately. Charges against them must also be dropped.
I also call on demonstrators and protest organisers to exercise their rights peacefully and not to resort to violence.
I urge Georgian authorities to withdraw this draft law, and to engage in dialogue, including with civil society and media organisations. Labelling NGOs and media outlets receiving foreign funding as “organisations acting in the interest of a foreign power” poses serious threats to the rights to freedom of expression and association.

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