European Court rapidly communicates case of Kist teenager fatally shot by Georgian security forces

Published: 1 Oct 2019

The European Court of Human Rights (ECthR) has rapidly communicated the case of a 19-year-old Kist man who was fatally shot in his bedroom by Georgian security forces. Temirlan Machalikashvili was shot in the head by State Security Service agents during a raid on his family home in the Pankisi Gorge region of Georgia in the early hours of 26 December 2017. He died from his gunshot wounds two weeks later. EHRAC and the Tbilisi-based Human Rights Education and Monitoring Centre (EMC) represent Temirlan’s mother, father, sister and grandmother, who were all detained during the security operation. An application was lodged on their behalf in June 2019, arguing that the Georgian authorities have failed to explain or effectively investigate the circumstances in which Temirlan was fatally shot.

The European Court’s communication – which comes just months after the application was lodged – demands clarity from the Georgian authorities over the use of lethal force by security officials when they broke into the Machalikashvili home and stormed Temirlan’s bedroom. The family claim that the actions of the State Security Service agents were unjustified, disproportionate and excessive, and in breach of Temirlan’s right to life (Art. 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights). The Georgian authorities have so far failed to provide solid evidence that the use of lethal force during the raid was absolutely necessary.

The European Court has also quizzed Georgian authorities on the current status of the investigation into Temirlan’s death. The Court now requests that the authorities hand over a copy of the investigation file, including documents relating to the planning and execution of the security operation. These materials are currently classified as state secrets and have not been disclosed to Temirlan’s family. The Machalikashvilis have voiced concerns regarding serious deficiencies in the investigation, including its lack of independence and scope, and the way in which evidence was gathered and handled. They have also repeatedly been denied victim status, limiting their participation and rights in the investigation into Temirlan’s death.

The Court has raised further questions regarding the inhuman and degrading treatment (Art. 3) that the Machalikashvili family suffered during the raid. They were awoken at about 3.45am by loud noises and gunshots. Security officials then forced the family members to the ground at gunpoint. They were detained for approximately three hours in two separate bedrooms. No explanation was given to them during this time as to what had happened to Temirlan, or why their home was being raided. The applicants have experienced serious trauma as a result of the raid. Their complaints have routinely been ignored by the Georgian authorities, and they have been denied an effective remedy for their claims (Art. 13).