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Public Defender of Georgia about the US Department of State Report on Human Rights Practices

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the US Department of State published report on human rights practices in various countries in 2008. A large chapter is dedicated to Georgia in the report.

Public Defender made comments on the US Department report of the human rights situation in Georgia which was published on February 25, 2009.

20-page evaluation of the human rights situation in Georgia impartially exposes the real problems and achievements in the field. Elections, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of people, living conditions in penitentiary establishments, arbitrary detention and arrest of citizens, political prisoners, real situation in conflict zones, freedom to expression, corruption, right to assemblage and manifesting, rights of the child, rights of the disabled people-these are topics that are revealed in the report in details.

Particular attention is drawn to the following:
The report particularly focuses on the facts of threatening and oppressing of the people, fabrication of documents and violations of accepting and discussing the complaints during the presidential elections on January 5, 2008. The report states that the same problems were revealed during the Parliamentary Elections on may 21, 2008.

During the war in August of 2008 both Russia and Georgia used indiscriminate and disproportionate force that caused casualties among peaceful civilians, among them were killed journalists.

Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life – murder of Giorgi Gamtsemlidze and Roin Shavadze, oppression of the family of Shavadze, murder of seven inmates during the riot in Tbilisi Prison # 5, murder of Aleksandre Khubulov and Zurab Vazagashvili, as well as killing of Varlam Pkhakadze-the report particularly stresses on inefficiency of the investigation conducted regarding these accidents.

The report reveals the fabrication of proofs on the murder of Amiran Robakidze and harassment against Khvicha Kvirikashvili.

Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of people like torture of Doctor Gocha Ekhvaia by policemen, torture of Teimuraz Gorgisheli by policemen. The report pays attention to the facts mentioned in the report of the public defender of Georgia – usage of excessive force by policemen while detaining suspects which often result in serious injuries of detainees.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions – inhuman and life-threatening conditions in the prison, mortality of prisoners, overcrowded cells, lack of accessibility to medical service for inmates, poor sanitary conditions, facts of suicide.

Arbitrary Detentions and Violations during Detention – usage of excessive force and killing of people while detaining citizens on the ground of suspicions.

Fabrication of proofs while detention and impartial investigation of the arbitrary detentions. For example, fabrication of proofs and arbitrary detention of Lasha Khorguani, Gocha and Khvicha Mildianis – the detention was ordered by Erekle Kodua, head of Special Operative Department within the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, the reason for the arbitrary detention was personal revenge of Kodua to the detainees. The report states that reports of the Public Defender of Georgia mentions several incidents when law enforcers planted guns or drugs on detainees in order to fabricate the proofs.

Lowering of Liability Age of Juveniles from 14 to 12

The opinion that detention of Irakli Okruashvili, former Defense Minister of Georgia, was politically motivated.

Illegal usage of technical tools during the monitoring of the interrogation at police stations – more precisely, monitoring the meeting of the suspect with his/her attorney.

*The report states that during the detention law enforcers do not explain their rights to citizens.

*oppression on the judiciary authority from the executive government – there is opinion that court has turned into the notary of the decisions of the executive government.

*oppressive phone calls to judges.

*usage of plea-bargain – the report states that this mechanism should be used without any oppression, threatening or illegal promising in the conditions of accessibility to legal aid.

*particular attention is drawn to the issue of political prisoners – the report gives examples of those people who are mentioned as political prisoners in the report of Public Defender of Georgia: Merab Ratishvili, Ioseb Jandieri, Ilia Tsurtsumia, Jony Jikia and Dimitri Godabrelidze. * the report points out that Human Rights Committee of the Parliament of Georgia denies existence of political prisoners in Georgia.

*recruiting juveniles in military service and war operations by de-facto authority of Abkhazia.

*Control of Government on Media – interference in the activities of publishing houses and extortion of shares of media-owners and assigning those shares to the people close to government. For example, incident about TV Company “Rustavi 2’ that occurred in 2004, violence against TV Imedi in 2007 and denying the license on broadcasting political programs to the TV Company “Maestro”.

*Attention is drawn to the misbalance of reporting by ruling and opposition parties during election campaigns when the former had most advantage.

*.After the parliamentary elections on May 21 there was a noticeable weakening in freedom of the media – the report states.

*the report mentions the conclusion of the Public Defender of Georgia where he stated that TV Companies refuse to release independent journalistic investigations.

*The meeting organized by the Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia on November 4, 2007 and its investigation where the dispersal of demonstrators on November 7 2007 was ordered. The report states that Public Defender requests establishment of investigation commission in the parliament of Georgia to investigate the fact.

*the report represents the conclusions of the OSCE which states that parliamentary election on May 21, 2008 was conducted in extremely paralyzed environment that was accompanied by threatening and oppression of leaders and activists of opposition parties. The report states that Public Defender criticized the facts of harassment during the election.

*inappropriate investigation of the harassment against the activists of the opposition parties – abuses of Mamuka Kvaratskhelia, Ramin Abuladze, Davit Sazanashvili, Amiran Ibashvili, Nugzar Khutsurauli, Giorgi Tavdgiridze, Giorgi Shervashidze, Ioseb Botsvadze, Zurab Giguashvili and Nona Sagareishvili were mentioned in the report.

*part of political rights focuses on the right of citizens to change the authority – and it states that legislation authorizes the citizens of Georgia to change the authority. However, the notes of the government made in reporting year are mixed up.

*Corruption and transparency – the report states that elite corruption is still a problem. The attention is drawn to the selective law in regard of corrupted officials.

*high degree of trust towards Public Defender from non-governmental organizations. Public Defender’s Office is considered to be effective mechanism.  
*beating of Public Defender during peaceful manifestation on November 7, 2007 which he attended to monitor the protection of human rights – the report assesses that the investigation of this incident is inefficient.

*indifferent attitude of the parliament towards the reports of the Public Defender.

*video - recordings made by the Central Election Commission of Georgia in order to monitor the election process at polling stations; the video recordings were handed to Public Defender after a long time through many delays; though entire materials were not provided to him anyway.

*about disabled people – the report states that the demands of the legislation are breached in regard with disabled people. For example, construction standards are breached during the construction of public offices.

“Rights of Pregnant Women in the Code of Labor” – the report mentions the conclusion of the Public Defender where he considered that Code of Labor does not protect the rights of the pregnant women. The code does not protect them from losing job.

Public Defender thinks that report of US Department of State on human rights practices is impartial and exposes current situation in the country.

The problems highlighted in the report of the US Department were mentioned in the reports of the Public Defender to the Parliament or in his special reports; they were introduced to the parliament of Georgia, to the government, international organizations and civil society.

Public Defender considers that situation in the field of human rights is grave in Georgia and calls upon the government to consider the problems listed in the report of US Department.

Source: Public Defender’s Office

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