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Amnesty concerns all inmates but life imprisonment

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, December 19
Georgia’s amnesty bill will concern all crimes except those sentenced to life imprisonment. A statement concerning the issue was made on October 18 during the sitting of the Parliament Civil Integration and Human Rights Committee. Special amendments were carried out in the draft concerning drug addicted individuals as well. The Georgian Government will be focused on the treatment and rehabilitation of this category of individuals rather than their detention.

According to the initial draft, amnesty did not concern hard crimes like intentional homicide, rape and so on. Based on the changes, the terms of those individuals who committed hard crimes will be reduced by one-quarter.

“Lots of inmates will be released through the amnesty. It will not be fair if the amnesty would not have affected others as well. I think that the committee made a very just decision,” head of the Parliament’s Civil Integration and Human Rights Committee, Eka Beselia, stated.

There were definite aspects to the amnesty bill that the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor’s office had significant remarks and objections over.

The Interior Ministry was against amnestying of the article that concerns drug trafficking and addiction. According to the representative of the Interior Ministry, Davit Korakhashvili, the article “must not be amnestied.” The remark was partially taken into consideration and the sentence for such crimes will be halved.

Majority MP, Tina Khidasheli, underscored that drug addiction should be treated rather than punished. “If we send drug addicted people to prison it will be an additional expense for their families and no step forward for the addicted,” Khidasheli said.

The ministry also demanded the removal of Article 353 from the draft that reflects forcible actions against policemen. According to the ministry, the release of such a category of people might encourage anti-police actions. The initiative was criticized by the Legal Committee of the Parliament. The committee advised the ministry to represent more trustful arguments concerning the issue.

The Presecutor’s office claimed that article 180 should also not be completely amnestied. The article concerns fraud. Discussion on the article is ongoing.

Another debate was related to negligent crimes, which ended in death. Such a category of prisoner will be amnestied only in the case that all the family members of the victim agree to this.

Parliamentary minority considers that the amnesty draft fits in the interests of the ruling party.

“The fact that the articles which concern official crimes are removed from the amnesty displays that the majority is acting based on its interests,” MP, Akaki Bobokhidze said.

Majority MP, Koba Davitashvili responded to Bobokhidze. According to him, if the former officials want to be amnestied, first they should recognize their guilt and state openly that they served a criminal regime.

Georgian analysts think that the amnesty might increase the crime rate in the country. However, they believe that amnesty was required, especially after the horrible video footage of prison abuse were revealed.

Discussion of the draft is still underway.