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Amnesty to Apply with Three Thousand Prisoners

December 24, 2012

Shorena Kakabadze, Kutaisi

80 votes vs one – parliament passed the Law on Amnesty on December 21. Three thousand prisoners will be exempted from punishment. 1 500 of them will have their sentences halved and the rest - reduced at 1/4.

Chairwoman of the Human Rights Committee at the Parliament of Georgia Eka Beselia clarified that the amnesty will affect every prisoner at some point in this country.

“We are and will be proud for our final decision. Although the Law on Amnesty was passed through debates and acute evaluations, I would like to declare with full responsibility that security of Georgian society will be maximally protected. New government is responsible for it. Our purpose was to assist as many people as possible to feel the impact of the amnesty as a human act. However, of course, we did not forget public interests in the view of security,” said Eka Beselia.

Authors of the draft-law evaluated the Amnesty as a step forward on the background of strict criminal policy in the country. They added that overcrowded penitentiary settings and unfair sentences imposed on majority of prisoners encouraged them to prepare the draft-law.

Within a week, people, whom the Parliament of Georgia recognized to be political prisoners, will also leave custodies. Besides them, probationers and people convicted for minor and imprudent crimes will leave custodies. Juveniles, women and people, who serve first sentence, convicted for grave and particularly grave crimes, will have their sentenced half-reduced.

There are controversial opinions about the draft-law both inside and outside the parliament. Part of MPs believes government will face problems in criminal situation because of large-scaled amnesty. Some people think the amnesty law was passed in a hurry as a result of insufficient discussions and recommendations.

“Of course I voted for the law but I have my opinion about some issues. I think the interests of the people, who are skeptic about this draft-law because of expected worsened criminal situation, should have been considered as well,” said MP Koba Davitashvili from the majority.

The minority has been against the draft-law from the very beginning; they did not participate in the adoption of the law after they refused to continue parliamentary activities because of Kutaisi incident and moved to a close regime of work; as a result, they imposed full responsibility for the outcome of the amnesty law on the government.

The government is ready to take responsibility for the alleged worsened criminal situation in the country. Minister of Interior Irakli Garibashvili said the Ministry will do its best to maximally reduce risks. “I would like to calm everybody and declare that doubt about alleged worsening of criminal situation is absurd. The information about alleged increased crime is also absurd. MIA will work for proper implementation of the Law on Amnesty,” said Garibashvili.

The Law of Amnesty did not apply to people sentenced to life imprisonment. However, the members of the Human Rights Committee state they intend to work in this direction in future.

According to official data, there are more than 21 000 prisoners in penitentiary establishment throughout the country.