Arbitrary detention and assault of journalist and human rights defender Gela Mtivlishvili

Press release
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Paris-Tbilisi, 12 June 2012

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organization in Georgia, the Human Rights Center (HRIDC), express their concern regarding the arbitrary detention and physical assault of independent journalist and human rights defender, Gela Mtivlishvili, by police officers in Tianeti.

On 20 May 2012, Gela Mtivlishvili, journalist and coordinator of the Human Rights Center (HRIDC) in Kakheti, was beaten by three police officers after being arbitrarily detained for almost one hour in Tianeti district police station.

Mtivlishvili was taking pictures of Tianeti district police station for one of his reports, when a plain clothed policeman approached him and requested to see his documents. Suddenly, with the aid of two other policemen, Mtivlishvili was grabbed and dragged inside the station.

During his arbitrary detention, Gela Mtivlishvili was hit on the head and kicked in the stomach. He was not allowed to call his lawyer. Eventually, police officers ejected him from the station. This enabled him finally to attend hospital for medical assistance in an ambulance .

During his arrest, Mtivlishvili’s pictures of the police station were erased from his camera, despite the fact that he was legally entitled to record and retain these images.

Following a special statement made by the Georgian Ombudsman on 21 May, the Prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into this matter on 31 May 2012.
It will have to investigate the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ public denial of Gela Mtivlishvili’s account of his beating, made on 20 May to justify its refusal to bring those responsible to justice.

FIDH and HRIDC are particularly concerned by the case of Gela Mtivlishvili. We condemn his arbitrary detention and his physical assault, and call on the Georgian authorities to immediately:

 guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Gela Mtivshvili, and all human rights defenders;
 carry out a prompt, effective and impartial criminal investigation into the above-mentioned events, the results of which should be made public, in order to prosecute the perpetrators of these acts before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal;
 put an end to any kind of harassment - including judicial - against journalists and all human rights defenders in the country, in conformity with the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, as well as with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Georgia.

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