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Next parliament should investigate November 7 without delay

Thursday, March 20
Parliament is sidestepping the human rights ombudsmanís 1400-page catalogue of human rights abuses in Georgia, which they were scheduled to consider this month.

Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze said the overworked MPs simply donít have enough time to look over the report, postponing the task until after the May parliamentary election.

The opposition ripped the decision as a stalling tactic to save the government from facing public discussion of November 7 before the election. The ombudsman suggested that parliament does not have the political will to do the right thing.

Giving daylight to the report would no doubt be politically damaging for the government. The ombudsman, who was clubbed alongside anti-government protestors on November 7, has been justifiably outspoken on the transgressions committed that day. His office has accused the powerful interior minister of sharing responsibility for the heavy-handed crackdown, widely condemned both at home and abroad.

No sane political leadership would want to publicly explore their responsibility for November 7 leading into election day. Parliamentís duck-and-cover tactic is no shock.

But the Saakashvili administration has offered no signal that it ever intends to sincerely investigate November 7, when masked special forces beat unarmed protestors bloody, someone took advantage of the chaos to kidnap a leading opposition politician, and Georgians felt betrayed by their own.

Protestors remain in jail today on questionable charges, but not one police officer or Interior Ministry official has been publicly disciplined.

The government may wish to bury the event entirely, but it will fester in votersí minds unless dug out and cut apart. Georgians must see that justice is not a tool of the government, but a restraint on it. The next parliament should make an independent November 7 inquiry one of its first orders of business.