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Draft on Amnesty to be modified

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
WEdnesday, November 28
The large-scale amnesty program and the issue of possible political prisoners still remain as one of the most controversial topics in Georgia. After the meeting of the Parliament’s Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee on November 27, it has been decided that the draft of amnesty will be modified more and the interests of various state structures and NGOs will be taken into consideration. However, serious questions still remain concerning the list of possible political prisoners.

The meeting of the committee took place along with verbal confrontations between the Committee chair, Eka Beselia and minority representative, Chiora Taktakishvili. Taktakishvili demanded the statistics from a Penitentiary Ministry representative concerning the inmates. The demand was responded to by Beselia who appealed Taktakishvili to obey the procedural rules. After, the verbal confrontation went deeper and Taktakishvili stated that the draft on amnesty should not have been discussed at all and such kinds of drafts should not have been prepared.

The majority has emphasized that the amnesty program has become needed due to such horrible actions that had been carried out by the previous government on inmates.

“I have met with the Interior and Penitentiary systems’ representatives. We have spoke on the risks of the amnesty bill and the Committee has decided that the draft will be changed and the ministries remarks and positions will be taken into consideration,” Beselia emphasized.

According to the majority representative, Shalva Shavgulidze, the amnesty program should be large scale, fair and less risky at the same time.

A statement has been made by the Ministry of Justice and Interior Ministry. According to the Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, trafficking and hard crimes should not be amnestied and a focus should be placed more on juveniles, female inmates and those who had committed less serious crimes. The Interior Ministry has expressed readiness to collaborate with the Committee in order to reduce the risks.

The Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association agrees with the executive bodies and states that the initial version of the draft should have been changed.

“We welcome amnesty however, public interests should be protected. The initially represented project was concerned with all inmates and all probationers. Our position is that the government should be more careful concerning the amnesty so that the criminal rate does not increase,” Tamar Chugoshvili, head of GYLA said.

For the minority representatives, the meeting discussing the amnesty draft was shameful. According to Taktakishvili the majority is unable to listen to the critical assessments and the majority representatives do not know how to “resist” the very qualified opposition.

The majority representatives have emphasized that the amnesty program will increase the crime rate in Georgia.

One more controversial issue the Human Rights Parliamentary Committee is working on concerns political prisoners.

The majority representatives are openly speaking of there being political prisoners in the country, while the minority does not agree with them and emphasizes that none of the international organizations have ever confirmed there being political inmates within Georgia. There are definite NGOs as well who believe that the list of possible political prisoners elaborated by the special working group should be discussed in detail, otherwise Georgia's International image might be tarnished.

According to Chugoshvili the list of possible political prisoners consists of more than 185 individuals.

“There are people on the list that are really worth to be there however; there are names as well that require further discussion,” Chugoshvili said.