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Taking Liberties, Misusing Power – Human Rights Center’s annual report for 2011

01.04.2012

Human Rights Center’s annual report for 2011 “Taking Liberties, Misusing Power” shows the main human rights developments observed in Georgia in 2011. The report reviews legislative changes adopted throughout the year, some of which violate international standards, impose unreasonably strict sanctions, and include vague terminology the interpretation of which could infringe on the rights of Georgian citizens. Special emphasis is put on the changes made to the electoral legislation. The report concludes that these changes could have unforeseeable consequences and impose unreasonable demands on ordinary voters and civil society representatives.

According to the report, broad formulations in the Law on Personal Data jeopardize the protection of sensitive individual data. The latest amendments to the Law on Assemblies and Manifestations contradict a decision by the Georgian Constitutional Court, thus violating the rule of law. The report also reflects the changes made to Law on Operative-Investigative Activities in September of 2010 which enable investigative bodies to monitor closed internet communications without court approval.

The report chronicles the use of excessive force from the side of law-enforcement during protest dispersals, at the most visible example of which occurred during the May 26th protests. Including a Tbilisi veterans’ action and the Hercules factory workers’ protest in Kutaisi, both unlawfully disrupted by law-enforcement, the report points to several violations of the procedural rights of detainees. Cases of aggression targeted against journalists and a general trend of impunity in cases of offences against media representatives are also described in the report.

Shortcomings with regards to political freedom takes up a significant portion of the report, describing the obstacles faced by businessman-turned- politician Bidzina Ivanishvili and people affiliated with him as well as detentions of representatives of other opposition political parties. Also included are the mass interrogations of political activists that took place around the country in early 2012 the reports on intimidation and aggressive treatment used during those proceedings.

The report reviews the systemic problems seen in the penitentiary system, including inhuman and degrading treatment, the increase in the mortality rate of prisoners, and prisoners’ inadequate access to medical help. Problems in the judiciary system, violations during the eviction of IDPs, and description of investigations into August war of 2008 complete the 56-page report.

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