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Has the Number of Abuse Victims in Preliminary Detention been Reduced?

Has the Number of Abuse Victims in Preliminary Detention been Reduced?

Do Personal Contacts of Public Defender Determine Who Will Become Part of Monitoring Group?

The main goal for establishing a Council for Monitoring the Preliminary Detention Centers is to uncover instances of the abuse of detainees by policemen, which, according to the Public defender, is successfully carried out by the Public Defender’s Office. However, the way the Monitoring Council was staffed has raised serious questions among those who work in this sphere about the criteria for selecting the council members.

In 2004 the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Public Defender signed a memorandum about creating a Council for the Monitoring of Preliminary Detention Centers. The Council was staffed with representatives of the Public Defender’s Office, interns that have been selected as a result of a competition, and representatives of NGOs. More specifically, there are four representatives from the Liberty Institute, ten representatives from the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, and also several people that have a mandate to enter the Preliminary Detention Centre Cells. Overall the Council consists of 80 people, among which are those who carry out monitoring in the regions.

The Public Defender, Sozar Subari, staffed the Monitoring Council based on his personal priorities. As Subari said in his talk with HRIDC (Human Rights Information and Documentation Center), he selected the people whom he knows personally and trusts. Also, he believes that including more public organization would call for exercising more control, but he needs more real leverage.

The Public Defender refused to include attorneys and journalists in the Monitoring Group based on the assumption that they would use any information they found for their own purposes. This is spite of the fact that the Public Defender himself was a member of the Monitoring Group during the previous government, while he was working as a journalist. HRIDC addressed the Public Defender’s Office with a request to be included in the Council, but have received no answer even after three months.

One group of attorneys believes that the Monitoring Group has been staffed with the representatives of a list of NGOs that was presented to the Public Defender by the President, and includes the people that are more or less loyal towards the present government. "The fact is that such attorneys as Lia Mukhashavria, Nana Kakabadze, Kartlos Gharibashvili, and others who have been fighting against the police state for many years have not been included in the Monitoring Group." says lawyer Zaza Khatiashvili. "I also am not included, though for 10 years I have been working in this direction and during my whole life I have been fighting the idea of a police state.  Today those people that claim to be fighting the police state are undermining us, and want to rebuild the police state."

According to Sozar Subari, instances of abuse and human rights violations towards the preliminary detainees have considerably diminished since the Monitoring Council started its work. However, Zaza Khatiashvili categorically denies that this is the case, saying that instances of the abuse of detainees and prisoners, and the planting of narcotics on them, has grown in scale.
The director of HRIDC, Ucha Nanuashvili, believes that instances of abuse and beatings might be reduced only in the capital of Georgia, and that the Monitoring Group has no real influence in the regions. "As for the regions, the degree of abuse, beating, and torture is still very alarming," says Nanuashvili.

Nino Bestavashvili


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