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Parliament confirmed receiving public defender’s report

By Messenger Staff
Monday, June 20
On June 14, 2011 Public Defender Giorgi Tugushi presented his report in front of the parliament. As it is known the previous Public Defender Sozar Subari became joined the radical opposition, while the present incumbent wishes to distance himself from politics. However there were certain issues in his 200 page report which could not avoid being politicized. The leader of the parliamentary opposition Christian Democrat Giorgi Targamadze called this report an “accusatory act”, however the ruling party who hold an absolute majority in the parliament only confirmed receipt of the report and concluded that steps are being made to improve the protection of human rights in the country.

The report was anticipated by the journalists and opposition with great interest. The same unfortunately could not be said about the ruling majority, as their apathy became vivid during the session. Just before the public ombudsman – human rights defender there were 82 MPs present out of 150. The report was listened to by 39 MPs, and eventually less than 30 were present to hear the report, many of whom were opposition members.

The Georgian media were very interested in this behaviour. The Ombudsman himself was not surprised with the small number persons interested in his report. In reality during the report there were enough ruling party representatives to neutralize and “counter attack” opposition comments.

The report gave the picture of the state of human rights protection in the country, revealing violations and giving recommendations for improvement. In the previous report in 2010 there were 274 recommendations, in the current report there were 308. The document showed that the ombudsman and his office is carrying out serious and solid work, however as the ombudsman stated he regretted that none of his recommendations were being considered in the parliament. Therefore he thinks that his opinion is not being properly acknowledged.

The most acute issue which was touched upon in the report was the situation in the penitentiary system of the country. Many examples were given of serious violations of the rights of inmates. It was reported that during the last year 142 prisoners had died which is an extremely high figure. There were also revealed many cases of bad treatment of the prisoners. Serious attention was paid to the human rights of the IDPs, in particular the eviction process.

The opposition demanded from the parliament to discuss the matter of responsibility of the minister Khatuna Kalmakhelidze who is in charge of the penitentiary ministry.

The ombudsman touched upon the issue of the crack down of the protest rally in front of the parliament on May 26, 2011. His general opinion was that inadequate and excessive force was used during the dispersal of the protesting crowd. The ruling majority was against placing personal responsibility or starting an investigation against state officials, whereas the public defender insisted that the given facts require analysis and the taking of special steps.

In conclusion it should be said that report was just accepted by the parliament without taking any special resolution based on the conclusions and recommendations of the report. There are two opinions, the ruling majority thinks that this report gives ground to conclude that there is democracy in the country whereas the opposition thinks that the facts revealed in the report confirms that the country is far from democratic.