Georgian Government admits ill-treating war veterans during sit-in
The Georgian Government has settled claims by ten applicants whose protest against cuts to war veterans’ benefits was violently dispersed by the police. The Government acknowledged that the police had breached the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment (three applicants), and the right to freedom of assembly (all applicants). It undertook to effectively investigate their ill-treatment. The ten applicants in this case were represented by the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), based at Middlesex University, and the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA, Tbilisi).
On 3 January 2011, the applicants organised a sit-in protest denouncing drastic cuts in the war veterans’ social allowances and benefits by the Government, having notified the authorities of their intention to hold a demonstration. During the sit-in, the police ordered the applicants to dismantle their tents and to leave. Following their refusal to leave, a large number of plain-clothed agents arrived and the protest was violently dispersed. Eight of the applicants were forcibly handcuffed to police vehicles and later convicted of administrative charges, including breach of public order. Following complaints by the applicants, a criminal investigation was launched into the beating of a number of protestors.
The applicants were awarded a total of €21,500 in compensation.
This is the eighth of EHRAC/GYLA’s joint cases to be resolved through either a friendly settlement or unilateral declaration. These cases are indicative of the current Georgian Government’s policy of trying to negotiate settlements directly with applicants. EHRAC and GYLA will monitor the Government’s progress in conducting an effective investigation, in order to ensure its compliance with the decision and justice for the victims.