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Special Forces Use Water Cannon and Pepper Spray to Desperse Rally in Tbilisi

By Liza Mchedlidze
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
Police Special Forces have deployed water cannons and pepper spray near the Parliament building to break up the rally protesting the adoption of the 'Foreign Influence Agents' bill. Many participants of the rally were injured and arrested.

Special forces were mobilized on Chichinadze and Chitadze streets where the Parliament of Georgia is located.

The newly elected Public Defender of Georgia Levan Ioseliani responded to the Police using force to break up the rally and called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs not to use special weapons and disproportionate force against the peaceful citizens, and appealed to the participants of the rally not to go beyond the legal framework.

"The Public Defender of Georgia responds to the ongoing rally in front of the Parliament of Georgia and explains that gathering and demonstration is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the constitution, which is one of the necessary prerequisites for the existence and development of a free and democratic society.

Only in the event that the rally becomes violent and/or illegal, the authorities should stop the protest only as a last resort, and the use of force must meet the strict test of necessity and proportionality.

Proportionate use of coercive measures by the police, including active special weapons (special batons, tear gas, acoustic means, rubber bullets, water jets, etc.) is allowed to achieve a legal goal, within the scope of the necessity of the effective means.

In addition, it is mandatory to warn the participants of the action in advance and to give them a reasonable time to fulfill the legal requirements. The type and intensity of coercive measures should be determined taking into account the specific situation, the nature of the offense and the individual characteristics of the offender. It is important that law enforcement officers try to keep the damage to a minimum and proportionate. It should be taken into account that the use of such means that cause severe mutilation is prohibited," the statement reads.