HUMAN RIGHTS IN GEORGIA


THE INDEPENDENT SOCIETY "HUMAN RIGHTS IN GEORGIA" Monthly bulletin # 20-21/2001

HUMAN RIGHTS INFORMATION AND DOCUMENTATION CENTER – HUMAN RIGHTS LIBRARY


"(1)Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.

(2)No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed."

Article 11


  

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

 

 

Joint Press Statement on September 15, 2000

On September 8 in Zugdidi, a meeting of the Jehovah's Witnesses was disrupted, a large number of people were violently mistreated and others were impeded from access to the meeting. The Embassies of the United States of America and Great Britain are greatly disturbed by this and other recent serious infringements on those exercising their right of religious freedom in Georgia, including the mistreatments of members of the Baptist Church in August. The Georgian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights guarantee an individual's right to freely practice the religion of one's choice. We call upon the Government of Georgia to investigate these incidents and to be vigilant in ensuring respect for the religious rights of all.

Tingles left Georgia

German nationals Arno and Sofia Tiunglers, founders and donors of Georgian branch of "Jehovah's Witnesses" have left Georgia - declared Member of Parliament Guram Sharadze. Consular Department of foreign Affairs allegedly forced them to leave the country. On September 19th couple left for Moscow. Guram Sharadze warns Georgian Embassy in Moscow not to give visas for return. He also send some warning notes to border control authorities not to let Tunglers come back to Georgia again.

Sharadze persecuted Baptists as well

After the interference of member of parliament Guram Sharadze, construction of a school for so-called "Believers of Gospel" was halted. It has to be mentioned that state license for operation of such a facility has been obtained by its owners.

Conference ,,Believes of Gospel" turned out to be Baptists. Apparently this became the reason why sharadze demanded from the Chief Architect of Mayor's office to turn down the plan of construction.

Program of co-operation between the Council of Europe and Georgian law enforcement bodies

On the 21-st of September Human Rights Directorate of the Council of Europe have visited Prosecutor General's office. One of the members was Ms. Ineta Ziemele- coordinator of co-operation programs with Georgia. The main aim of the visit is collaboration in the field of Human Rights between Georgia and European Council. The idea belongs to Ms Ziemele.

Visit started at the office of Ministry of foreign Affairs and later working meetings were held at the Ministry of Justice, Constitutional Court and Public Defender's Office.

European guests visited Prosecutor General's office at 5 a. m. Deputy Prosecutor, General Mr. Nugzar Gabrichidze met guests. Parties were discussing issues of future cooperation in 2001.

Nobody cares for prisoners

Mr. Zaza Midelashvili was carried to Republican Prison Hospital with severe injuries of stomach. He is accused in assisted murder of a policeman together with Lasha Kartvelishvili. According to Elene Tevdoradze, Head of Parliamentary committee on Human Rights, prisoner had unbearable pain in stomach area but no one paid attention. Doctors hesitated to perform surgery because it was hazardous for patient. The staff members of Colonies do not really care about health of inmates and only let them to visit hospital whenever they are seriously ill. And they do it only with sole purpose - in order to avoid their death in colony and liability for a such outcome. According to Tevdoradze, in case of prisoner's prompt removal to hospital they health conditions can be improved easily. According to statistics 39 prisoners already died in Georgian Prisons so far this year, 29 - last year. 6 of 39 either committed suicide or were killed during clashes.

Prisoner stopped protesting

Prisoner Ms. Jikia stopped striking at republican Prison hospital when Elene Tevdoradze, Head of Parliamentary committee on Human Rights met her. Jikia demanded revision of her case. She was repeatedly arrested for drug abuse. For the first time she was imprisoned on the grounds of murder charges. Ms. Tevdoradze mentioned that prisoner demanded meeting with her lawyer Ms. Eka Beselia; The meeting was arranged. Beselia declared that she excluded the possibility of case revision.

There is a lack of medications in republican Prison Hospital

After her visit in Republican Prison Hospital, Elene Tevdorade, - Head of Parliament committee on Human Rights declared that Prisoners are left without medicines. Health conditions of prisoners who do not have access to the appropriate medications are especially severe. She met with two prisoners - Zaur Kaldani and Nodar Elisarov, who suffer from epilepsy. No one has provided them with proper drugs and as the result they suffered from epileptic seizures at least twice a day.

Policemen beat juveniles

In Akhaltsixe Policemen physically abused 14 years old female Nini Gakharia and 15 years old male Valeri Ostrovski. As Elene Tevdoradze, Head of Parliamentary committee on Human Rights has declared, they were arrested for stealing guns.

Policemen beat the accused and forced them to extract confession in committing of some other crimes. They were beaten so severely that they had trails of boot prints all over the body. Both juveniles know the names of policemen who beat them and are ready to testify in front of authorities against them. According to Ms. Tevdoradze, both juveniles are from poor families.

She noticed that the frequency of physical abuse becomes disastrous in Georgian law enforcement and similar allegations against Georgian policemen are brought consistently.

Mkalavishvili welded the door of "Resonance" newspaper

The supporters of defrocked priest Basili Mkalavishvili demanded to close down newspaper "Resonanse", they considered the newspaper as anti-orthodox media. Basili decided to teach a lesson to "pagans". In the morning he came to the office of the newspaper and welded the door. They did not warn anybody from staff members of the paper who appeared to be trapped in the building. They addressed police for help. Police unlocked the door. Mkalavishvili was not punished for such action, moreover, he promised to return back with more revenge.

New registration of refugees is being delayed

The Ministry of Refugees and Accommodations of Georgia begins re-registration of Chechen refugees at the end of October.

As the Head of the department of refugees and asylum seekers Mr. Irakli Pirtsxalava has declared, re-registration had to take place at the beginning of October, but because of some technical problems it was postponed. International organizations and representation of Chechnya in Georgia will also take active part in this process. According to Mr. Pirtskalava, the process takes minimal expenses and finances the issuance of new refugee cards to refugees only if it is necessary. Every year, according to law, the Ministry is supposed to re-register displaced persons. According to final data, more then 7000 refugees of war are registered in Georgia.

Two soldiers were severely beaten

Two brothers George and Vano Sekhniashvili were severely beaten in Koda Military base - declared Elene Tevdoradze, Head of Parliament committee on Human Rights. Two soldiers were on duty when officers passed them. For no reason, officers Papiashvili and Tabatadze have beaten George so hard, that he received closed head and eye injury. It also affected his speech.

Later prosecutor sent him to hospital where he was interrogated. At night Papiashvili and Tabatadze managed to come to Sekniashvili and threatened him with weapon. According to Tevdoradze, Sekhniashvili addressed to the principal Military Prosecutor Badri Bitsadze with the complaints but he has not reacted at all.

NeIther Prosecutor's office, nor Ministry of Defense is willing to investigate this case. According to Tevdoradze , she intended to visit Military section in Koda but according to order ,,from above" no one would let her to enter. Ms Tevdoradze condemned the fact urged that until some officials put orders ,,from above" ignoring the law, the country is going to face enormous difficulties in the field of human rights.

42 criminal cases against foreigners in Georgia

According to data of International Union ,,the Center for Protection of Citizens rights and security" 42 criminal cases were launched against foreign aliens between August 1999 and June 2000.

Beaten solder from Akhaltsikhe Military Unit

Beaten Private Manuchar Manucharashvili deserted from 22 brigade of the Ministry of Defense. According to Elene Tevdoradze Manucharashvili was exerted to Physical abuse and as the result ended up in the hospital. Several times his mother demanded to move him to another unit. Nowadays he is caught and detained in a single chamber. Tevdoradze declared that Manucharashvulis is going to continue his service, but in different unit. She had conversation about the issue with principal Military Prosecutor Badri Bitsadze. Tevdoradze considers this case as frequent phenomena and therefore, officials in Ministry of Defense have a lot to ponder about.

ESCAPE

Escape arrangements - 5000 dollars

Agreed amount... - about half of it

On 26th of September at 4 a.m. three prisoners Bagrat Vashakmadze, Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Alexander Gurasashvili freely left Avchala Colony. As it appeared the Guard Gocha Korchaidze helped them after they've bribed him. At the beginning the amount agreed for assistance in escape was 1200 USD, but then reached 5000 - Korchaidze confessed.

The prison administration learned about escape at 11 o'clock. It took them half an hour to detect the escape. One of the fugitives - Vashakmadze was sentenced to death, but then later capital punishment was changed with 20 years of imprisonment.

Vashakmadze had to be released in 2015; Tskitishvili - in 2014 and Gurasashvili - in 2010.

The process of national reconciliation will face difficulties

According to Elene Tevdoradze, escape of ex-head of national army Loti Kobalia and former Minister of Finance Guram Absandze from Republican Prison Hospital will make the process of national reconciliation between authorities and opposition difficult. The escape will complicate the position of those, who are in prison. E.g. Irakli Dokvadze and Petre Gelbakchiani - ,,as it appears were not quite ,,ill" prisoners were placed in Prison hospital, otherwise they couldn't dig this tunnel" commented Tevdoradze.

The Judge to act more responsibly

Lali Aptsiauri, head of ,,Prisoner's commonwealth", blames court and government in fact, that 12 inmates have escaped from prison. Absandze and other accused were treated as slavers and poor prison conditions made them to initiate escape. Aptsiauri believes that Absandze was finally convinced that everything was already decided by authorities and he could face lifetime imprisonment. Aptsiauri condemned court decision and cynically commented, that courts underwent ,,deformation" instead of reformation.

Medical personal assisted to fugitives

President Shevardnadze expressed his serious concern on fact of escape of 12 prisoners. Shevardnadze blames medical personal for assistance in escape. According to Kakha Imnadze, press-secretary of the president ,,this cynic act coincides with rumors and declarations, made by certain persons about expected instability in the country. According to him president ordered

law enforcement bodies to take all necessary measures to arrest fugitives. Imnadze excluded likelihood of expected unrest in Georgia.

However, he escape was serious offence. Investigation is still going on and those who are responsible might face some serious punishment. Among those who escaped from prison hospital were: former Minister of Finance Guram Absandze, Peniz Gulua and Zurab Ejibia, also ex head of Georgian Army Loti Kobalia, charged with murder, and other individuals, charged with different counts of criminal activities.

Government organized the escape

Escape from Republican Prison Hospital look place with the assistance of government structures. "Government in going to incite instability and unrest" - declared Mamuka Giorgadze, head of "People's Party", "Government is going to create a new scare corrow out of escaped. It is necessary for the country being in agony today".

Tengiz Asanidze - 12 years of imprisonment

Adjarian court considered a verdict of 12 years of imprisonment of Tengiz Asanigze pardoned by Presidential decree. After Pardon Adjarian Prosecutor's office brought new charges against Asanidze. At this point he was accused with the charges of kidnapping of Khelvachauri Police Head, Vazha Gogitidze. Asanidze's son declared that the decision will be appealed in Supreme Court. Asanidze was imprisoned for the embarrassment charges in 1994, president pardoned him in 1999, but the Supreme Court of Adjarian Autonomous Republic put veto on the Pardoned act and brought the case anew with different counts of felony charges.

These is no Democracy in Georgia - says Elene Lebedeva

Elene Lebedeva, the spokeswoman of famous Russian human rights activist Sergi Kovalev, represents the interests of Guram Absandze and declares that government provoked escape. The idea was to kill Absandze. There were 3 attempts to kill Absandze so far. ,,These is no democracy in Georgia and we are going to inform EC and whole Europe about it. If existing practices continue unchanged, all Georgians soon will live in one place - in prison" declared Lebedeva.

 

Police join extremists in beating Jehovah's Witnesses and looting convention site in Republic of Georgia

MARNEULI, GEORGIA―On Saturday, a second convention of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Republic of Georgia was canceled because of mob violence, one day after the U.S. and British embassies issued a joint statement condemning violence against Jehovah's Witnesses in Georgia.

Police joined with Orthodox extremists in attacking unarmed men, women and children as they attempted to return home. Police also joined in looting the property and demolishing the convention site. Eyewitnesses report that police beat at least two male Jehovah's Witnesses.

On September 8, 2000, another convention of Jehovah's Witnesses, in Zugdidi, was violently broken up by masked police. On September 15, 2000, the U.S. and British embassies issued a joint news release stating that they were "greatly disturbed" by the violent attacks on Jehovah's Witnesses and other minority religions and calling upon the government of Georgia to investigate the incidents.

Last week, Marneuli police threatened that they would shut down the scheduled convention by force, said Guram Kvaratskhelia, spokesman for the Witnesses. Saturday morning, police roadblocks on major routes to Marneuli stopped all vehicles carrying Jehovah's Witnesses but gave free passage and a police escort to busloads of Orthodox extremists, followers of defrocked Orthodox priest Basil Mkalavishvili. With this development, convention organizers canceled the convention and informed the delegates on the buses to go home.

At one of the police roadblocks, a group of Orthodox extremists attacked the buses as they attempted a return to Tbilisi, Kvaratskhelia said. Encouraged by three attending priests, the attackers hurled rocks at the buses. Windows were broken, and one woman passenger was struck in the head by a rock. The extremists stopped another bus and dragged three male passengers out and beat them. The attackers entered the bus and shouted insults at the men, women and children. One attacker pulled a knife. Others robbed the passengers. Police at the scene supported and participated in the beatings.

Graphic television news footage shows Mkalavishvili shouting orders as the Basilists swarmed over the site of the canceled convention, looting and destroying everything in sight. They stormed the adjacent worship center and demolished it. The mob entered the family residence of Ramazi Tsartsidze, located at the convention site, robbed the family, and then burned their personal library. In a televised interview, Mkalavishvili declared that he was confiscating the property.(Information of the Public Affairs Office of Jehovah's Witnesses)

New registration of Chechen refugees in October

The Ministry of Refugees and Accommodations of Georgia begins re-registration of Chechnian refugees at the end of October. As Mr. Irakli Pirtsxalava, Head of the department of refugees and asylum seekers, declared re-registration had to take place at the beginning of October, but because of some technical problems it was postponed. International organizations and representation of Checnia in Georgia will also participate in process. According to Mr. Pirtskalava the process takes minimal expenses and only printing of new refugee cards is necessary. Every year, according to low, the Ministry arranges the re-registration of displaced persons. According to final data more then 7000 refugees are registered in Georgia.

 


"HUMAN RIGHTS IN GEORGIA"# 20-21,  2000
This is monthly bulletin "Human Rights in Georgia"

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