The Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria stated that she welcomes changes to the Law of Georgia on Assemblies and Demonstrations by the Georgian Dream ruling party lawmakers, but says that the proposed amendments “absolutely prohibit” the right to peaceful assemblies of a wide range of people, which worsens the constitutional standard of the protection of the right and contradicts the universally recognized international principles of human rights.
Public Defender Opposes a Section of New Draft on Peaceful Assembly
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, May 30
Lomjaria says that the Paragraph 1 of Article 21 of the new edition of the Constitution of Georgia states that everyone, except for servants of defense forces or the bodies responsible for defending state or public security, have the right to public and unarmed assembly without preliminary permission.
She says that the draft amendments to the Law of Georgia on Assemblies and Demonstrations clarifies the term “servants of defense forces or the bodies responsible for defending state or public security" and provides a list of such bodies.
The amendments expand the circle of persons who shall be subjected to the absolute prohibition of the right to peaceful assemblies.
“According to paragraph 2 of Article 2 of the applicable edition of the Law of Georgia on Assemblies and Demonstrations, the right to assemblies and demonstrations shall not apply to the employees of the armed forces, armed law-enforcement bodies, special and paramilitary forces.
“The absolute prohibition of the right to peaceful assembly of these persons has repeatedly become the subject of acute criticism of the Public Defender of Georgia and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission,” Lomjaria said.
Lomjaria says that the proposed legislative package not only does not take into view the international standard, but it offers an extensive list of state agencies, employees of which shall be subjected to the restrictions on the right to peaceful assemblies.
“Among them are employees of the Emergency Management Service, the Environment Supervision Department of the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture of Georgia and the Special Penitentiary Service of the Ministry of Corrections of Georgia. Absolute prohibition of these persons’ right to peaceful assemblies is questionable in the situation when their direct responsibility for defending state and public security is not clearly established,” Lomjaria stated.
The public defender called on the parliament of Georgia to change the draft in line with the Georgian constitution and recent high standards.