Amnesty International said on March 16, that “the widespread summoning” of opposition activists and supporters by the authorities “to answer questions relating to their political inclinations and activities creates a chilling effect and risks violating the rights to freedom of expression and association.”
The state audit agency, Chamber of Control, which is also in charge of monitoring political finances, summoned this week reportedly over hundred activists and supporters of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s opposition coalition in regions as part of, what the Chamber of Control said was, ongoing monitoring of the opposition group’s finances.
“Amnesty International is concerned that the widespread questioning of opposition party members and supporters throughout Georgia over the course of this week has been accompanied by reports of the violation of legal safeguards and the intimidation of opposition sympathizers,” the rights group said in a statement.
Amnesty International said that it had received reports that questionings were often carried out in “an aggressive manner, under heavy police presence, with people subjected to invasive searches and questioned about their personal political beliefs and activities, often while being denied their right to legal representation.”
“The questioning of opposition supporters and other non affiliated persons has been accompanied by numerous reports of the denial of legal representation to which they are legally entitled. The selective examination of only opposition party members and presumed supporters, the manner in which many examinations took place, the nature of many of the questions asked and the sheer number of those called in for questioning suggests that the operation is politically motivated and aimed at intimidating current and potential opposition party sympathizers,” Amnesty International said.
The rights group has called on the Georgian authorities “to ensure that the powers conferred on the Chamber of Control to question individuals are used only for the purposes and within the limits of law.”