On December 12th, Department of Criminal Police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia detained Giorgi Kldiashvili, director of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) on charges of illicit carrying of firearms. The reason for his detainment was that Giorgi was carrying home registered collection firearm in his ownership after it has been repaired, without having permit on transportation from the Service Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to initial position from the representatives of the MIA, the actions of Giorgi Kldiashvili were not beyond the scope of administrative offence and he had to pay fine. However, later, Giorgi Kldiashvili was accused of the crime envisaged by article 236 (2) of the Criminal Code of Georgia (illicit carrying of firearms) which is punishable by a fine or imprisonment ranging from three to five years. After three hours of examination Giorgi Kldiashvili was detained and taken to the detention centre i.e. “Moduli” building.
The police decided to detain Giorgi Kldiashvili despite the fact that Giorgi Kldiashvili showed the firearm himself (The firearm was dismantled, without bullets or magazine), presented himself in the police, answered all questions of the investigation, confirmed that he had permit for keeping the firearm and that he had taken the firearm for repair.
At the court hearing the prosecutor was unable to justify neither the need for two-day detainment of Giorgi Kldiashvili nor any threat of him avoiding prosecution. According to the interim decision of the judge, “the court has concluded that there is essential violation of article 171 of the Procedural Criminal Code, which is basis for setting him free”. By this interim decision the court stipulated that the representatives of the MIA have violated requirements of the law when detaining Giorgi Kldiashvili. Because of the above mentioned the court has decided to free Giorgi Kldiashvili from the courtroom on 1500 GEL bail.
According to Giorgi Kldiashvili, upon detainment the representatives of the MIA mentioned activities of his organization and the civic campaign that he is part of. They alluded to the campaign “This Affects You” and asked him why he referred to illegal surveillance. We want to stress that regardless of the charges made against an individual, it is totally unacceptable from the police to make reference to his involvement in any kind of civic activism.
We find that Giorgi Kldiashvili has violated the requirements of Georgian Legislation. Namely, by transporting his own hand-gun without the permission on it. Giorgi himself acknowledges the violation. But it should be emphasized that the action constitutes violation of Administrative Offences Code and is not enshrined by the Criminal Code of Georgia. Article 181 of the Administrative Offences Code, stipulates that violation of the rule of storage or transportation of firearms and ammunition by the person having the permission on keeping the hand gun issued by the MIA is administrative offence.
Taking into consideration all the above mentioned. i.e. the decision of the court highlighting that the actions taken by the policemen were illegal, starting the investigation based on the article of Criminal rather than Administrative Offence Code, the implication on civil activism and other breaches of law present in the case, gives enough grounds to think that the non-proportional measures taken by the law-enforcement entities may be linked with the active professional life of Giorgi Kldiashvili and his involvement in civic campaigns.
Based on the above mentioned we request the following:
1. Investigate the legality of the actions undertaken by the policemen and hold all those acting against the requirements of law responsible;
2. Close all criminal proceedings against Giorgi Kldiashvili, based on the fact that the act taken by Giorgi Kldiashvili is not enshrined by the Criminal Code of Georgia (article 105 of the Criminal Procedural Code of Georgia);
3. High Officials should refrain from making abusive statements on NGOs, addressing them as traitors and actors taking subversive measures. Together with other negative effects, these statements can have effect of encouraging state actors to take illegal and non-proportional measures described above.
The statement is open for signatures
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