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Public Monitoring Council proposed for prisoners' human rights

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, July 27
Georgian Human Rights activists are trying to create a Public Monitoring Council in the penitentiary system. The instigator of forming the council is the leader of the group Solidarity to Illegal Prisoners, Eka Beselia who announced their ambition on July 26, while summarizing one year of monitoring results in human rights.

"The aim of the council would be strengthening of public observation of the penitentiary system, human rights to be protected within the system and some preventive mechanisms to be formed. At the same time civil society should be enabled to participate in the decision making process with the authorities in this direction," Beselia stated. As it has been mentioned during the meeting, such a council was firstly created by Mikheil Saakashvili, when he was Minister of Justice of Georgia and the council which might be crated will be similar in its style, based on the same regulations and targets. It has also been underlined that certain statements will be made regarding the council during the summer period by human rights activists and international organizations. According to the organizers and participants, the council will be created by those human rights activists with experience in this field and "not by the Government and its so called Human rights protectors." Whether the council's proposed creation is supported by the Government remains to be seen.

As the majority representative MP, Davit Darchiashvili told The Messenger, the creation of such a council is the prerogative of the Public Defender's office, rather than some NGOs or human rights' activists. At the same time he underlined that such an attempt might be lobbied by some political forces, " when they say that the project will be formulated based on something which was created by the current president when he was the Minister of Justice, it should be foreseen that at that time the Public Defender's role and power was different compared to now. In general, such initiatives are important and we will discuss them."

In response to Darchiashvili's statement, human rights activist, one of the initiators of the council's creation and analyst, Irakli Sesiashvili explained in details the reasons why the creation of such a council has great importance, "if Darchiashvili and our authority representatives believe that everything is fine in the penitentiary system, they should not be against the creation of such a council. The situation in the penitentiary system while Saakashvili was there as Minister of Justice, was really different. Human Rights' workers and the Public Defender were much freer to see the prisoners, talk with them and carry out monitoring there, which is practically impossible currently. I can say openly that visiting prisons in foreign countries is much easier for me than in Georgia. We are not permitted to talk with prisoners, to protect their rights, if some prisoner decides to say something, he is under threat, " Sesiashvili told The Messenger and mentioned that he was a member of that monitoring council of the penitentiary system created by Saakashvili when he was Minister of Justice, " the project we will create will carry those regulations, which were put forward by Saakashvili and some other current rulers. If they refuse the project and oppose the regulations created by themselves, it would be the indicator of how democratic a government we have." at the same time, Sesiashvili mentioned that the human rights' activists will collaborate with international organizations in this field. Sesiashvili also made explanations regarding the Public Defender, according to him, the scale of the Public Defender's office does not present an opportunity to carry out the according monitoring, especially when in 2003-2004 there were 4000 prisoners and currently their number is more than 20 000. At the same time, he mentioned that the Public Defender has a lot of other issues to look after.