Joint Statement on Ways to Ease the Crisis Arising from the Decision to Detain Nika Melia

18 Feb, 2021

On February 17, 2021, Tbilisi City Court granted the motion of the Prosecutor General of Georgia and used detention against the Chairperson of the United National Movement, Nika Melia.

It has been revealed that the authorities intended to arrest Nika Melia by using police force. The latest actions of the government have increased political polarization and further deepened the political crisis. The resignation of the Prime Minister, Giorgi Gakharia highlights the depth of the crisis. In this particular case, the primary responsibility for defusing the situation lies with the ruling political party and the institutions that are directly involved in the current events.

The only way out of this particular situation is to make the right political and legal decisions, thereby defusing the current situation and preventing the country from escalating the political crisis to an extreme extent. We believe that, if there is political will, it is possible to find a way out of this situation.

We call on the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to refrain from enforcing the court decision until the defense has used all the remedies provided by law.  In particular, according to the legislation and the practice established by the courts, decisions at the stage of hearings on merit cannot be appealed within 48 hours. It can only be examined by the Court of Appeals together with the final verdict. This norm contradicts the right to liberty and fair trial guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia and is therefore unconstitutional.

We believe that, in the current situation, challenging this provision in the Constitutional Court and facilitation of this process by the Court of Appeals would be the most significant steps. Specifically, if the defense team challenges the decision on detention,  the Court of Appeals can address the Constitutional Court with a constitutional motion on the grounds of the provision’s being unconstitutional, suspending the criminal prosecution and the consideration of the case until the Constitutional Court produces a ruling. Subsequently, any actions related to the enforcement of the decision of Tbilisi City Court will be pending. This will be an institutional and legitimate way to defuse the current serious crisis.