The Public Defender’s Office has been monitoring the continuous protests launched by Beka Grigoriadis near the Parliament’s back entrance since May 28. According to the media reports, Beka Grigoriadis was arrested on June 1, 2023, during a rally, while setting up a tent. Before that, the law enforcement officers had not been letting him set up a tent for a peaceful protest for several days.
For many years, the Public Defender has been pointing out that placing a tent is an integral part of the exercise of freedom of assembly. The correctness of the mentioned position is proved by the practice of the common courts of Georgia, as well as the explanations made by the Constitutional Court. This restriction is especially problematic and disproportionate when a tent does not block the entrance to a building or when it does not obstruct traffic. In addition, even when only one person expresses a protest by using a tent, which does not fall within the area protected by freedom of assembly, that person shall enjoy freedom of expression, interference in which is considered disproportionate without relevant and proper reasons.
At the same time, the footage spread by the media on June 1 shows that the police officers seized protest banners from several participants in the peaceful assembly in front of the legislature, for a completely incomprehensible reason and in a rude manner, which does not correspond to the obligation of law enforcement officers to promote the full exercise of the right, including through various means of expression.
The Public Defender once again calls on the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia not to impose unjustified restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression.