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Two NGOs left working group on political prisoners

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, November 13
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association and Constitution 42, left the working group of studying the issues of possible political prisoners. A statement concerning the issue was made by the NGOs on November 12.

A special working group with the aim to investigate the issues of a specific category of individuals was created on November 1 at the parliamentary Committee of Human Rights’ Protection and Civil Integration. The working group was given two weeks term to ascertain whether a person is a political prisoner or not. The working group was staffed with majority, minority and civil society representatives.

The working group delivered a special list formed by the Helsinki Group consisting of 185 inmates and 13 wanted individuals. The working group is obliged to specify whether these people are really political prisoners or not in two week’s period.

It should be pointed out that through Georgian legislation it is impossible to grant such status to an individual as the definition of political prisoner does not exist in Georgian law. However, the European Commission has elaborated resolution # 1900 which specifies such definition.

Georgia is a member of the European Commission and is obliged to foresee the resolution during the discussion of the cases of possible political prisoners. Thus, the working group is using the resolution.

The Young Lawyers’ Association and Constitution 42 claim that the two-week term and format of the working group is not enough for the proper studying of more than 185 cases.

“We have tried several times to push forward the terms of the working group and to achieve changes in the format of the group. However, we failed in this regard. The prolongation of the terms is not planned, as well as modification of the current format. We consider that in such an environment, the complete and deep investigation of the cases and making appropriate conclusions is not possible,” the statement made by the two NGOs read.

The NGOs also underscored that there are various problems concerning the group which inhibits its successful functioning.

The NGOs also emphasized that they will assist the group with their prepared cases and conclusions but from the outside.

One of the members of the working group, Nana Kakabadze, told The Messenger, that a two week term is enough for carrying out the group’s actions.

“80% of the cases from the 185 are well known issues and various NGOs have been studying them since 2008-2009. As for that other 20 %, a two-week term is absolutely enough for studying them. Those NGOs who entered the group should have known that it would not have been an easy job,” Kakabadze said.

According to her, it is important to establish whether an individual is a political prisoner or not.

“Those people were captured by the previous government. However, currently when there is a new government in the country they still remain in prisons. It is not fair. We need to specify whether they are a political prisoner or not... as for amnesty, the parliament should decide this,” Kakabadze suggested.

Lawyer, Gela Nikolaishvili told The Messenger that a detailed investigation of those cases really requires too much time.

“With the legal study of all those issues, the process might lengthen for years. However, there are such people in the working group which have been working on political prisoners issues for years and there would not be a need for the detailed studying of many issues. Thus, a two-week term would be enough for this,” Nikolaishvili stated. He also responded to The Messenger’s question of what the compensation will be of those people recognized as political prisoners.

“There are various types of compensation; a monthly pension of GEL 70 or a one-time compensation GEL 200-500; of course it is a funny sum… However, the parliament might set different compensation for those who are recognized as political prisoners,” Nikolaishvili said.