Statement of NGOs in Response to Incidents during Pre-Election Period in Different Parts of Georgia

We would like to express our concern over the actions against representatives of opposition political unions in different parts of Georgia, and urge all political stakeholders to abandon practice of violence. 
Media has reported that on April 10 in different parts of Georgia – Batumi, Anaklia, Telavi, Tskaltubo and Tbilisi, there were attempts to disrupt meetings organized by representatives of the United National Movement (UNM). 
During these incidents, verbal and physical clashes occurred, and eggs were thrown at vehicles of opposition party representatives. Media reports that activists of the Georgian Dream who had gathered at the place of these meetings prevented the UNM representatives from proceeding with their scheduled meetings. Notably, the UNM’s internal party meeting in Akhaltsikhe was held amid incident.   
During pre-election campaigning a particular emphasis is laid on freedom of assemblies and manifestation, as a constitutional right. However, realization of the right must be bound by its legal frames and should not grow into violence. It is important for the authorities to ensure peaceful conduct of pre-election meetings and events, in a free environment, disallowing and preventing any violence.  
It should be a matter of priority for the authorities to conduct local self-government elections in a civilized environment, free from any violence. Consequently, each political subject must be allowed to present its own visions and election program to voters without any interference. To this end, we urge 
-individual citizens  - to refrain from expressing their protest in violent form. We realize that rallying individuals could have been victims of violence and unfairness themselves; nevertheless, there are no legal justifications of any such action. As soon as we assume otherwise, such incidents will be repeated, which will clearly be damaging to the very interests of the country; 
-political unions - to ensure observance of internal party discipline and prevent their supporters from attending meetings organized by other political unions for the purpose of counter-agitation or making a speech, in order to avoid any verbal and physical clashes on political grounds, and all election subjects be able to communicate with constituents without any interference; 
-law enforcement authorities – to ensure safe and peaceful environment for pre-election meetings and events, prevent violence and investigate acts of violence in objective, comprehensive and unbiased manner. To this end, each individual violation should be rightfully assessed from legal point of view and adequate liabilities should be imposed; 
-the inter-agency task force for free and fair elections – to adopt corresponding recommendations, similar to previous years, and urge election stakeholders to refrain from interfering with pre-election campaigning processes
-state authorities and local self-government agencies – to ensure that political neutrality is observed and not to abuse administrative resources in favor of any candidate. 

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) 

Transparency International – Georgia

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association