Statement of Human Rights Center: justice shall protect women against all forms of violence

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HRC carries on protecting the interests of the head of news service of Trialeti TV Company, Lela Lobjanidze, who became a victim of a death threat from an MIA employee and his family members. The judgment rendered on April 6 to release the accused persons from a measure of restraint was possibly due to their employment status and unlawful protectionism, because of which the affected woman up to the date is afraid of moving freely and of the threat that would be carried out by the accused persons.

On July 23, 2020, head of the news service of the regional TV Company Trialeti Lela Lobjanidze was attacked by her husband's brother and nephews at the grave of her deceased husband. Along with a verbal abuse, they have threatened her with death and attempted to exert a physical violence on her. A number of persons have witnessed the fact, thanks to their efforts the grave consequences could be avoided. A part of the conflict has been recorded on the video by one of the witnesses.

Despite the fact that there are testimonies of 7 direct witnesses, the video footage and other numerous pieces of evidence, which prove the death threat committed by a group of persons against  Lela Lobjanidze, it took  9 months for the District Prosecutor’s Office of Shida Kartli and Mtskheta-Mtianeti to bring charges against the accused raising reasonable doubts that the accused persons were covered up as one of them, Z.E. is an employee of the Special Tasks Department within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, while the second one, his brother, T.E. is employed at one of the non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entities of the Mayor's Office of Kareli Municipality. 

Only after involvement of HRC in the case, after submitting several complaints and applications, on April 6, 2021, it became possible to bring charges against the employee of MIA and his brother for the offense provided for by Article 151(2)(a) of the Criminal Code of Georgia(death threat by a group of persons, when person under threat began to have a reasonable sensation of fear that the threat would be carried out). On the same day, a hearing of the first appearance of the accused persons before the court was held at Gori District Court. Despite the fact that the Prosecutor's Office required to remand them on bail as a measure of restraint and to prohibit them from approaching  Lela Lobjanidze as an additional injunction, the judge left the accused persons without a measure of restraint.

The victim, Lela Lobjanidze has to live under a fear up to the present day and this fear increases day by day, because she sees that no liability was imposed on the MIA employee and his brother  up to the date for the unlawful actions committed against  her. The fear is exacerbated by the fact that the accused Z.E. as an employee of a law enforcement agency has access to firearms. The victim has constant expectation that the death threat against her will be carried out by the accused persons. This fear is the reason that Lela Lobjanidze has to agree every visit to the grave of her deceased husband with the body investigating the criminal case and has to request the guarantees that no one will attack her there. 

According to the assessment by HRC, the procrastination of the criminal case as well as leaving the accused persons without a measure of restraint do not serve the interests of the justice, contradict the commitments of the State under the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, to protect women against all forms of violence and to prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women; to protect the victim from further acts of violence. According to Article 199 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, if a criminal prosecution has been initiated against a person for charges related to the violence against women and/or domestic violence or domestic crime, the court shall, on a priority basis, along with the issue of applying a measure of restraint, consider the issue of imposing the obligation to seize a firearm from the accused, and/or prohibiting him/her from entering a certain place and from approaching the victim. The Gori District Court has not ordered any of the above.

At the moment, the Investigative Panel of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals hears the issue of application of a measure of restraint against the accused persons based on the Prosecutor's appeal.

HRC calls on the Panel to take into account the danger of the act committed by the accused persons, the personality of the accused persons, the possibility of them to influence the witnesses and to commit a new crime against the victim and to render a decision in compliance with the law: to apply a measure of restraint against the accused persons and to impose as an additional injunction not to approach Lela Lobjanidze. Otherwise, the State will be fully responsible for the expected harm, which the accused persons may re-inflict on the victim incited by the court’s decision.

Human Rights Center