Tolerance and Diversity Institute

Joint Statement of MDF, GDI and TDI About the Assault on the Office of Free Zone

On September 30, 2014, youth association Free Generation carried out an attack on the office of NGO Free Zone as a result of which individual members of the organization sustained physical injuries and the office infrastructure was damaged.

In addition to being a criminal act, the aforementioned fact contains a real threat to the country’s democratic development. All kinds of violence that is directed against persons who hold different views is unjustifiable. The activities of a non-governmental organization may not become grounds for attacks and physical reprisals. Freedom of expression is protected by the country’s Constitution, which means that the state must protect all opinions from all kinds of violence.

The existence of NGOs and the freedom of their activity is the main indicator of a state’s democratic character. Accordingly, when the existence of such organizations is endangered and the state is indifferent to such facts, the values protected by the Constitution of Georgia come under question.

In addition, based on news reports, the state has failed to fulfill its positive obligation. It was known that threats were made against Free Zone and its members. In spite of the fact that Free Zone had warned the relevant organs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of an expected attack, they did not take relevant measures to prevent the attack. The state is obliged to ensure public order and prevent violence among private persons.

During the incident that took place in the office of Free Zone, the police detained two persons under the charge of beating Zaza Davitaia. Later, the lawyer of the detainees released a statement according to which"the detainees Parnaoz Chkadua and Davit Gogokhia were beaten cruelly by the police in the temporary detention isolator. According to Oniani, the Head of the Investigation Service of the Patrol Police threatened detainee Gogokhia with rape.”

We call on the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to immediately investigate the facts mentioned in the statement of the detainees’ lawyer and, if they are confirmed, to take adequate measures in relation to the police officers.