Poet Zviad Ratiani to sue Georgian law enforcement at European Court of Human Rights

Poet Zviad Ratiani was arrested in December 2017 by police in Tbilisi. Photo via Georgia Made by Characters.

Agenda.ge, 04 May 2020 - 17:54, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian poet Zviad Ratiani will take his case of a 2017 incident involving law enforcement in Tbilisi to the European Court of Human Rights, after reviews of the highly publicised confrontation by the local justice system.

Ratiani, who alleges officers of the police physically abused him during his arrest on December 23, 2017, will be represented in Strasbourg by the Tbilisi-based Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC).

The organisation will argue that the police's release of the footage of the incident - presented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia as evidence during proceedings in a Tbilisi court - was unlawful.

The footage - captured via personal smartphone of a law enforcement officer - as opposed to body camera as is mandated - showed Ratiani verbally abusing the police employees, however EMC argued the video had been edited to only show his reaction to his treatment by the arresting officers prior to the start of the recording.

EMC's case to the European court will argue that the recording and release of the footage - aired by the Georgian Public Broadcaster on December 27, 2017 - was unlawful and served the purpose of "creating negative attitude" towards Ratiani among the public.

The airing of the video by the GPB was followed by demands by a group of Georgian writers and publishers to see the channel's management team dismissed for the decision. An appeals body at the channel rejected the claims of violation of privacy in response to the protest.

In February 2018 the interior ministry was fined GEL 2,000 by the Personal Data Protection Inspector of Georgia for releasing the video, however the Tbilisi City Court later annulled the decision - the move was later confirmed by an appeals court.

On its part the ministry alleged Ratiani had been inebriated, resisted arrest and insulted law enforcement during the incident.

In their European Court of Human Rights submission Ratiani and EMC will also sue the law enforcement for alleged inadequate investigation into the case.