News
TDI
Jun/1807

Statement of “No to Phobia!” platform on the investigation of an attack on African students

NGOs respond to the April 8 violent attack on the African students allegedly motivated by the racial intolerance. There are questions about the impartiality of the investigation, whether the law-enforcement agencies intend to determine objective truth in the case, if there is an attempt to regulate the legal issues informally and to avoid liability of the alleged perpetrators.

On April 8 several foreign students were playing football at the municipal stadium on Beliashvili street, Tbilisi, while aggressive group of Georgian men physically and verbally insulted the students and expelled them from the stadium  presumably on the racial discrimination grounds.

The videos that were disseminated on the internet on the same day[1] shows that the offenders were armed with batons and cold weapons, using hate speech towards victims. This was also confirmed by the students in their statements given to the police, which affirms the discriminatory motives of the attack.

Initially, the law enforcement officials advised foreign students to settle the confrontation informally. Yet,  after the keen public reactions, the investigation was launched and is still ongoing under the Article 126 of the Criminal Code (Violence). The case still is not qualified as a racial discrimination. Several investigative actions have been carried out, however, the alleged offenders have not been held responsible so far.

NGOs spoke up about the indifferent attitude and loyalty of police officers towards the racially motivated violence and called for the general inspection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to study the facts[2], however this request has not been addressed by the State.

It was also important that the initiative of Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze to organize a “friendly football game”[3] after the incident to have been aimed at solidarity towards the students and encouragement of tolerance among the society; also the crime and racism to be clearly condemned, however this was not ensured by the state officials.

In parallel to the ongoing investigation, an attempted suppression of students was revealed. The law enforcers and Georgian citizens participating in the attack are supposedly trying to influence several students to deny the accuracy of their testimonies and change their content so that the investigation could be closed, presumably due to the absence of evidence of criminal offense.

We believe that the ongoing investigation is inefficient. Besides, the alleged attempt of the Interior Ministry employees and state officials to conceal the alleged crime and to cease the investigation is extremely alarming. This once again proves that the State does not respond adequately to the crimes motivated by discrimination and intolerance and cannot provide an effective investigation.

We address:

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia:

To take immediate actions to investigate the April 8 incident and to hold the offenders liable. In this regard, it is especially important to identify the racial motive of the crime;
The General Inspection of MIA has to immediately inquire into the possible violations of the employees of the Ministry;
Taking into consideration the public interest, to make the ongoing investigation and the results public.

The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia:

To study and respond to the alleged abuse and/or misuse of official authority exercised by the police officers;
In case the violations during the investigation process is confirmed, to transfer the case  for further investigation to another structural unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia.

 

[1]  Videos of the attack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8Bmq-mnY64

http://netgazeti.ge/news/266201/

[2] Statement of the NGOs, 9 April, 2018 http://www.tdi.ge/ge/statement/arasamtavrobo-organizaciebi-shakvkanian-studentebze-tavdasxmis-shesaxeb

[3] TDI responds to Kakha Kaladze’s Initiative and Statements http://www.tdi.ge/en/statement/tdi-responds-kakha-kaladzes-initiative-and-statements