Human Rights Center Re-Appeals the City Court’s Guilty Judgment against the Protester for Erecting a Tent in the Appellate Court

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Human Rights Center re-appeals the Tbilisi Appellate Court to claim the annulment of the judgment of Judge Nino Enukidze at the Administrative Law Chamber at the Tbilisi City Court, according to which Beka Grigoriadisi was found guilty for erecting a tent during the protest rally and was fined with 2 000 GEL. 

Beka Grigoriadisi started his non-stop protest on May 28, 2023 to request the freedom of Lazare Grigoriadis, a participant of the March 7-8, 2023 protest demonstrations. Beka Grigoriadis started his protest 20 meters away from the building of the Parliament of Georgia, in the Oliver and Marjori Wardropes’ Square. In the same evening, Beka Grigoriadis tried to erect a tent in the square but several police officers immediately attacked him and seized the tent from him. Next day, on May 29, Beka Grigoriadis repeatedly tried to erect a tent in the square but the police officers forcibly obstructed him. Before setting up a tent and its seizure, police officers did not warn Grigoriadis to obey the requirements of the police officers. Besides that, when seizing the personal item, the police officers did not clarify to Beka Grigoriadis the procedures of the seizure and its return. On June 1, Beka Grigoriadis again tried to erect a tent but the police officers again obstructed; furthermore, they arrested him when he was trying to take the tent out of his bag. It is worth to note that Beka Grigoriadis and his supporters addressed the police officers in advance through the megaphone and informed about their intention to raise a tent though police did not prohibit them to do so at that stage. 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) brought charges against Beka Grigoriadis under the Article 173 of the Administrative Offences Code of Georgia that refers to disobedience to the legal order the law enforcement officer. On June 2, at the trial in the Tbilisi City Court, the officers of the MIA noted that based on the Code of Administrative Offences, erecting a tent or other constructions caused the arbitrary alternation of the appearance of the Tbilisi municipality. Similar justification of prohibiting the set-up of a tent from the police officers was precedential as in all previous cases the MIA officers had never mentioned the same argument to legitimate their obstruction to the erection of a tent. 

The Georgian legislation does not determine any restrictions with regard to setting up a tent during protest rallies. By now, there has been no legal grounds to prohibit a protester to set up a tent in the square. The legislation does not determine prohibitions on the erection of a tent in a square or in the area where similar action does not create a risk of blocking a traffic movement or paralyze administrative building. Therefore, prohibiting the protester to erect a tent in the square was unlawful action of the police officers. 

Although there is a video-file demonstrating the non-stop process of the detention, unfortunately, the judge at the Tbilisi City Court fully shared the statement of the police officer, which was not an evidence to prove guiltiness of a defendant in the administrative proceeding and fined Grigoriadis with 2 000 GEL. 

Beka Grigoriadis and Human Rights Center appealed the court judgment in the Appellate Court. The Tbilisi Appellate Court annulled the decision of the Tbilisi City Court and returned it back to the first instance court for reconsideration. Additionally, the Appellate Court noted that the City Court should have examined the case in complexity taking the freedom of speech and expression into consideration. 

Regardless the abovementioned recommendation of the Appellate Court, the Tbilisi City Court formally examined the case on September 27 and passed the same decision – concluded that erection of a tent was violation of the law. Human Rights Center will appeal the decision in the Tbilisi Appellate Court in the coming days. 

Human Rights Center