The government must immediately investigate the incident in Kortskheli - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

The government must immediately investigate the incident in Kortskheli

23 May, 2016

 

Today, in the village of Kortskheli, during the by-elections of Zugdidi Municipal Council, a verbal confrontation between members of the United National Movement (UNM) and a group of unidentified individuals escalated into a physical confrontation. UNM members were injured as a result of this confrontation outside the polling station. Individuals, who had identified themselves to the media as tourists, damaged the equipment of reporters, interfered with their professional activities and acted in an especially aggressive manner.

Several police officers present on the ground initially attempted to resolve the conflict, but were unable to take preventive measures due lack of numbers. Despite clearly illegal actions, the unidentified individuals were able to leave the area without being detained or questioned by law enforcement representatives.

After some time, the same individuals returned to the polling station. Currently, there are more police officers in the area. UNM representatives are also present. It is unclear why the police have yet to detain and question persons involved in physical confrontation. Moreover, the police have not called on them to leave the vicinity of the polling station.

A representative of Transparency International Georgia reported that these individuals have once again insulted the assembled citizens and threw a bottle at a journalist from the local media organization TV Odishi. The police have not responded to this incident either.

We call on the investigative authorities to immediately launch an investigation into the above incident, determine the identities of individuals involved in the confrontation and hold them responsible before the law. The police on the ground must ensure a safe environment for the election process and question individuals involved in the physical confrontation. We believe that police officers must undergo appropriate training on how to prevent similar incident at polling stations. Citizen safety during the election process cannot be ensured by the inaction and insufficient number of police officers.

We believe that such incidents negatively affect the health of the political environment. Police inaction and lack of investigation will get in the way of holding the upcoming parliamentary elections in a peaceful and competitive environment, which ultimately will decrease the quality of democracy and governance in the country.

 
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elections, Gvote