We Do not Want to Be Tried
Samtredia based special school for juvenile offenders is the only institution for juveniles in Georgia. Thirty three juveniles, suspected in various crimes, are being taught how to start a new life. They also attend ordinary school lessons there. Juveniles are watching TV carefully, they wonder whether the information they have heard in rumors, is true. People say that juveniles might be tried like adults in future. Consequently, these children are afraid of being tried and it is quite natural.
“We know that we should not commit a crime any more. We already know how we will act when we leave the school. In the prison, we would have been spoilt and nobody should have expected from us to conduct proper life after having served the term in ordinary prison. I am going to build a house and work honestly. I do not want to be a thief and rob somebody,” said Giorgi Kobelashvili from Kaspi district, one of the beneficiaries of the juvenile’s school.
Other juveniles share his opinion too. Very often, adults have to calm them down. Tutors at the school said that they look through the case materials of a new beneficiary once when he arrives, then they put it aside and start a new life. The guardians and the children become equal. They get each other very well.
“It is unreasonable to judge twelve-year-old child and send him to the prison. A child of this age cannot live in the prison. They cannot endure living conditions there. We have expressed our opinions regarding the situation several times. We have had discussed the problem at the Ministry of Education and Science. Unfortunately, they have not turned down the draft law. Do not they understand that twelve-year-old child cannot be tried and placed in the prison?” said Zeinab Lobzhanidze, an administrator of the special school.
Under the current Criminal Code juveniles from the fourteen-year-age are charged for the crime in Georgia. However, the lowering of the liability age is being discussed in the parliament. The society does not appreciate the initiative.
“The initiative means to destroy child’s life finally. I have dealt with many children of this category and I know their psychic very well. The juveniles, having left the special school, are starting proper life; thus they have realized their crime and completely improved for better. What will the prison give them?-only collapse and it will create a big gap in their life,” said Maguli Giorgadze, a teacher-in-chief of the commission for juveniles. Post-revolution government abolished her job having considered it unnecessary. However, the teacher keeps the volumes of the case materials with personal data and adventures of juveniles.
The initiative of the Legal Committee of the Georgian Parliament on lowering the liability age to 12 years became a topic for public consideration. Non-governmental organizations categorically oppose to make amendments to the law. People very often apply NGOs regarding the situation.
The Public Defender’s Office has started working on the project framework, “Criminal Liability of Juveniles” together with foreign experts.
The Public Defender considers that the principal aim of the juvenile’s liability should be the rehabilitation of the law-offenders and not their punishment. In this field Georgia should take example from the experience and practice of the countries within the European Union.
Georgian Young Lawyers Association’s (GYLA) central office has prepared a report on the issue that was sent to the legal committee of the parliament. It is uncertain whether they would take young lawyers opinion into consideration. It is unreasonable to lower the liability age to twelve years. The report gives the same opinion. There is not a juvenile justice system in Georgia. Juvenile crime should be prevented and the young offenders should not be punished severely. They should be tutored at home, school, etc. Special law should be adopted for the children who are growing up in the street. That means, that such children should not be punished, they must be reintegrated into society. Severe judgment and punishment of the juvenile results into creating a criminal from him,” said Giorgi Chikaberidze, a representative of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association’s Kutaisi office.
Representatives of the Kutaisi office of the GYLA think that there is not a law enforcement body in Georgia that could investigate what made a juvenile to commit a crime. According to young lawyers a child should be kept away from the police. Tutors from the Samtredia based Special School think in the same way. These people are looking forward to final decision of the parliament.
Shorena Kakabadze, Kutaisi
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