In Georgia, the right to freedom of assembly is regulated by the law No 763 “On Assemblies and Demonstrations” of August 14, 1997. That law requires prior notification regarding the holding of peaceful assemblies.
Procedure for organizing meetings
- organizers can be citizens of Azerbaijan or any other state who have reached the legal age;
- a notification about the organization of a meeting shall be submitted not later than 5 days prior to the date on which the planned meeting is to take place, or earlier in case the event is to be held on the carriageway;
- organizers do not bear any expenses for the holding of the event.
What is allowed?
Participants and organizers have the right:
- to hold a meeting near the buildings representing the authority of the State or its agencies;
- to hold meetings in the night-time;
- to cover their faces;
- to conduct preliminary agitation campaigns before receiving authorization;
- to hold more than one public event at the same place and time.
Restrictions on the right to freedom of assembly
It is prohibited:
- to hold spontaneous meetings;
- to hold assemblies or demonstrations near railway stations, airports, and military sites;
- to call for the overthrow of the constitutional order of Georgia or to incite hatred towards any social group.
Police are allowed to use non-lethal weapons to prevent crimes and maintain public safety.
- fines for the demonstration organizers can reach up to $1686, fines for participants — 10 times less, $169;
- non-compliance with the requirements for public assemblies that results in serious consequences shall entail criminal liability for organizers: fine or imprisonment for up to 2 years;
- obstruction of a meeting shall entail fine, correctional labor, or imprisonment.
Commentaries of experts and participants of public events
Participants of public assemblies, human rights advocates, and journalists from Georgia say that in general, they do not see problems to exercise the right to freedom of assembly. However, in some circumstances, authorities unlawfully restrict the holding of peaceful demonstrations. They note most difficulties surrounding the organization of LGBT events and assemblies that criticize the government and its policies. Our respondents also say that the police fail to protect participants of assemblies from aggressive activists. Activists from Georgia note that Georgia’s authorities ratify all international laws on the freedom of assemblies but do not actually follow them.