Today, the Tbilisi City Court is discussing employing detention as a restraining measure for Nika Melia, the leader of the United National Movement. Given the background of the severe political crisis in the country, when the people responsible for the disproportionate use of force against the June 20 rally have not yet been held accountable and more than 18 months have passed since the beginning of the criminal prosecution, the use of detention measures against the opposition leader reflects the selective justice.
Nika Melia is accused of leading and participating in group violence during the rally in front of the Parliament on June 20-21, 2019. Within the framework of this case, on June 26, 2019, the Parliament revoked Melia’s MP mandate based on a trite and uns ubstantiated motion, and the court imposed on him, as a supplementary measure, in addition to 30,000 GEL bail, a ban on leaving the residence and making public statements. We consider that restricting the freedom of expression for a member of the Parliament of Georgia is a disproportionate violation of his right to exercise his powers.
In a speech on November 1, 2020, Nika Melia openly removed his electronic monitoring bracelet that was interpreted by the court as a violation of the terms of the restraining order and it increased the bail to GEL 70,000, with the deadline for payment being set to December 23, 2020. The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office did not respond for a month and a half after the expiration of the term and started the proceedings on the case only on February 5, 2021. Despite the appeals of the Public Defender of Georgia and the civil society, the Parliament of Georgia lifted the immunity of Nikanor Melia through a murky process.
The law stipulates that the use of a detention as a measure is not an end in itself, but serves a specific purpose. In particular, the use of this measure is necessary if there is a risk of the accused hiding, destroying evidence and / or committing a new crime. Violation of the restraining measure should not be an automatic basis for the imposition of detention, especially when more than 18 months have passed since the beginning of the prosecution and the investigation is over.
In view of the above-discussed circumstances, the signatory organizations call on the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to understand the circumstances of the case, the country’s current difficult political context and to abstain from changing the restraining measure. In addition, we call on the Tbilisi City Court to discuss in detail the grounds and legitimacy of the detention order. Selective persecution of the leader of the largest opposition party irreparably damages the country’s democratic image and poses a real risk of destabilization in the face of political polarization. The ruling political force is primarily responsible for the existing political crisis. The steps taken so far by the government, including the Prosecutor’s Office, have only deepened the current crisis. To avoid further aggravation of the situation, we call on the parties to take decisions in favor of peace and democracy.
- Open Society Georgia Foundation
- Transparency International Georgia (TIG)
- Georgian Democratic Initiative (GDI)
- Democracy Research Institute (DRI)
- Institute for Democracy and Safe Development (IDSD)
- Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC)
- Human Rights Center (HRC)
- Atlantic Council of Georgia
- Center Empathy
- Society and Banks
- International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
- Governance Monitoring Center
- Liberal Academy
- Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
- Investigative Journalism and Economic Analysis Center
- PEN Georgia
- Georgia’s Reform Associates (GRASS)
- Green Alternative
- Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)