The newest Draft on Amnesty was passed with its first reading at the Parliament on December 7. 83 MPs supported and 10 went against the draft which envisages several forms of amnesty: from complete exemption from a charge to a reduction of either one-third or by one-fourth. The fate of those recognized as political prisoners was decided a presumed number of inmates to be released was calculated.
Draft on amnesty passes with first reading
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, December 10
Georgia, which has several socioeconomic problems, has one of the highest prison population in the world. Currently there are more than 21, 000 inmates kept in Georgian penitentiary institutions.
Based on the draft, those inmates will be released from prisons which have committed minor crimes. Amnesty will not be given to those who have committed more serious crimes such as murder.
Those convicted for crimes caused by reckless imprudence will be released, but the draft excludes those cases that ended in the loss of life. There will be a complete exemption from punishment for those inmates who have no previous crime record but are imprisoned for either plotting or attempting to commit less grave crimes.
There will also be a complete exemption from punishment for those who had no previous crime record but are currently convicted for drug-related crimes; but amnesty will not be awarded to those convicted in the illegal drug trade. Those sentenced for resisting police will be released.
Sentences will be halved for those committing grave crimes while being under age 18 and having no previous crime record. crimes related to misappropriation; wittingly buying or selling stolen items; illegal gathering or disseminating confidential commercial or banking information; tax evasion; illicit possession or carrying of firearms; drunken driving that led to less serious injuries; violation of safety norms at energy facilities that led to loss of human life or other grave consequences; bribing organizer or participant of sport or entertaining competitions; misuse of state loans; forged credit cards; violation of customs rules.
Sentences will be reduced by one-third for those female inmates who committed grave crimes which did not result death.
Terms will be reduced by one-fourth for those inmates who are convicted for murder, sexual assault; terrorism and crimes which carry life imprisonment.
The issue of political prisoners was discussed within the draft and those recognized as political prisoners several days ago will be released.
After passing the draft, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili explained his previous words concerning an increase of crime in the country.
According to him, he was referring to several days after the amnesty and not a large period of time.
“Among those released, there will be individuals who might commit the crime. The public should take the situation with understanding. However, such a situation might take place for several days,” Ivanishvili stated.
The minority was especially against Article 19 in the draft (the article is related with release of political prisoners).
“This is the case where it exceeds the legal frames and bad precedent is created. Political prisoners issue should not be reflected in the draft on amnesty,” MP, Pavle Kublashvili said. In general, Kublashvili emphasized that majority should decide which article should be brought in the draft and which should not. The opposition considers that the process should be led carefully as there is serious risk that the crime rate will seriously increase after the amnesty.
Deputy Minister of Penitentiary and Corrections, Giga Giorgadze, claims that criminal rate will not be increased.
“We have worked on the draft too much and all the risks are taken into account. If there is even a theoretical risk that crime rate might increase all according state structures are ready and will act appropriately,” Giorgadze stated.
The Head of the Young Lawyers’ Association, Tamar Chugoshvili, stated that there was need of large scale amnesty in the country.
“However, a special commission should be created as well, which will study the cases of those inmates which will not be amnestied. Negotiations are ongoing and presumably such a commission will be created at the Ministry of Justice,” Chugoshvili stated.
Chugoshvili also emphasized that increase in criminal rate after the large scaled amnesty always exists and the Interior Ministry should be ready for this.
Two readings are left till the confirmation of the draft. In case if the draft is confirmed nearly 3,000 inmates will leave the penitentiary institutions.