ECHR accepts cases of Georgian journalists injured in June 20 rally dispersal

  19 June 2020    Read: 949
ECHR accepts cases of Georgian journalists injured in June 20 rally dispersal

The European Court of Human Rights has accepted applications prepared by the Human Rights Centre (HRC), asking the Prosecutor General’s Office to grant plaintiff status to journalists injured during the dispersal of June 20-21, 2019 protest demonstrations near the parliament of Georgia.

A rally triggered by the presence of Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov in the Georgian parliament was dispersed by police after demonstrators ignored the appeal of the Interior Ministry to obey law enforcers and decided to break into the parliament building.

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In its official statement, HRC says that journalists Merab Tsaava, Beslan Kmuzoff and Zaza Svanadze were injured during the dispersal.

The organisation applied all national legal mechanisms to request the Prosecutor General’s Office grant victim status to the journalists and to conduct a timely, effective and unbiased investigation into their cases. After the HRC’s lawful claims were rejected, the organisation applied to the Strasbourg Court to determine a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression), Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights”, reads the statement of HRC.

HRC says that the journalists received significant injuries ‘as a result of the disproportionate force used by the law enforcements’ against the protesters on June 20, in front of the parliament of Georgia.

The police used rubber bullets against international standards, when there was no necessity to use them; furthermore, they used the rubber bullets against demonstrators who did not create any real and immediate threat in concrete/individual cases of violence. Excessive use of force by the police officers resulted in grave and, in some cases, irreparable injury of many demonstrators and journalists”, says HRC.
Beslan Kmuzoff, a reporter of the Caucasian Knot in Georgia, was hit by six bullets. One of them hit him in the head and he needed surgery in hospital.

Merab Tsaava is a journalist of the news agency Guria News. HRC says although he was wearing a journalist’s badge, a rubber bullet hit him in the hand, when he was holding a camera and was videorecording. 

Journalist and civil activist ZaZa Svanadze was in front of the parliament of Georgia on June 20 to express his peaceful protest against the ongoing developments in Georgia. During the dispersal, Svanadze received multiple injuries and he was also placed in hospital.

About 240 people received injuries during the rally on June 20. Two of them lost eyesight in one eye.

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, who was serving as interior minister during the June 20, 2019 rally dispersal in central Tbilisi, says that the Georgian government prevented ‘a large-scale destabilization and chaos’ in the country.

Gakharia told the media yesterday that it is of less importance now who ordered the use of the rubble bullets or water cannons during the dispersal.

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