Human Rights Center responds to the practice of fining the citizens by MIA for violating Covid-19 regulations

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HRC carries on the Project Free Legal Advocacy and Human Rights Monitoring after the Coronavirus Pandemic. The objective of the project is to identify the facts of human rights violations  when taking  the measures  against the spread of the pandemic, including under the state of emergency and afterwards, and to assist the elimination of the violations. 

In the recent months, the arbitrary cases of fining the citizens by MIA officers on the grounds of violating the Covid-19 regulations have become particularly frequent; this is mainly caused by the blanket interpretation of the legal norm on the part of certain police officers even more complicating exaggerating the situation of the regular citizens living under the disproportionally tightened regulations. 

Within the project, the cases processed by HRC clearly indicate  the repressive policies of the State, on one hand, and  the inconsistent approach of MIA patrol police officers while executing their authorities, on the other hand. This is mainly expressed in misinterpretation of the respective formal grounds and ignoring the important factual circumstances, when fining the citizens for  violating the Covid regulations; the formal grounds and factual circumstances shall meet the necessary standard for considering the person  an administrative offender . 

Within the cases processed by HRC related to fining the persons for violating the Covid regulations, often MIA officers do not examine important facts and individual circumstances of the cases of alleged offenses. Further, in some cases, the fining occurs in circumvention of law, through misinterpretation of a legal norm by police officers.

From the outset, it is wrong and inefficient in the long run to maintain public order and compliance with the law only through tightening the legislation and reinforcing the repressions. For the prevention of the offenses, it is important not to increase the statistics of issuing the fines but instead to provide the homogeneous and just enforcement of the law, which would be impossible without studying  the facts by a police officer. Further, under  the current Code of Administrative Offenses and taking into account the disproportionally severe sanctions applied for the violations of the Covid regulations, imposing fines in similar manner for particular offenses would have a harsh impact upon the social and economic situation of the citizens.

The problem is also aggravated by the fact that the Code of Administrative Offenses applied in the country during the Soviet period does not envisage  adequate procedural guaranties. Further, issuing of the fines without meeting  the respective standard will intensify the unjustified restrictions of the human rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Human Rights Center calls on:

The Ministry of Internal Affairs:
  • While fining the citizens for  violating the Covid regulations, to observe the respective standard for holding the person a perpetrator of an administrative offense and investigate all important facts or individual needs affecting the imposition of the fine; 
  • To provide awareness-raising of the representatives of  the patrol police officers about the necessary respective standards and obligations envisaged by the legislation for holding  the person a perpetrator.
The General Courts:
  • In hearing the cases, to take into account the statement  of the persons considered offenders under what circumstances they were fined and what preconditions preceded the fine. Further, check necessary relevant standards for holding  the person  a perpetrator and on these grounds assess the issue of legitimacy of the fine.
  • The Parliament of Georgia: 
  •  To initiate the reform of the legislation of administrative offenses, as  the existing Code does not provide procedural guarantees for the persons hold  administratively liable.

Human Rights Center