22 inmates from various prisons in Georgia went on hunger strike on November 29. The reason of the action is the decision voiced by the Minister of Justice of Georgia, Thea Tsulukiani, concerning the government decision to delay the launch of a commission to look into alleged injustices.
Creation of the ‘Commission on Miscarriages of Justice’ delayed
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, December 2
The Draft law, which was prepared by the Justice Ministry, says that before the October 2012 parliamentary elections, lots of Georgians were victims of unfair treatment under the United National Movement Government. The Draft law proposes the creation of a 15-man commission for a three-year term to study applications filed by those who think that they were unfairly convicted in cases involving grave or especially grave crimes. Those, who were convicted for less serious crimes are eligible to address the commission, if it is created, in the caseof imprisonment due to the conviction.
According to the Minister of Justice, the temporal suspension of the draft is caused by financial reasons. Tsulukiani explained that in the case of an individual proving that he really was the victim of injustice, he might ask for compensation.
“The Ministry of Justice has put this Draft law to one of the government sessions. No one is against the formation of the commission. However, today our country is not financially ready for that,” Tsulukiani stressed.
The Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance, Sozar Subari, believes that the inmates’ worry and strike are “useless”, as the delay of the commission is temporal. Subari informed that some other commission might be created as well, which will work on the steps that follow legal procedures.
“We should specify the details on financial resources and regarding the issues which are linked with the restoration of justice,” Subari said.
The Head of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Kote Kublashvili, assessed the delay positively. According to him, the committee would have created more problems in the justice system. “There were so many legal shortcomings that the commission would not be able to work impartially. The decision was right,” Kublashvili said.
The United National Movement members share the assessment. UNM MP, Tina Bokuchava, said that the commission would be a direct involvement in court’s issues.
“It would be better for Tsulukiani to pay more attention to the court reform and to stop the creation of such a commission,” Bokuchava said.
Public Defender Ucha Nanuahsvili criticized the denial. He emphasized that the financial ground for the decision was baseless. “With the use of available mechanisms, the government can set procedures and timeframes for granting potential compensations in such a way so as not to cause a huge financial burden for the budget,” Nanuashvili said, adding that the Ombudsman’s Office will itself initiate the bill in Parliament if the government does not revise its decision.
The denial was deemed unacceptable by the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association. The organization’s statement reads that for many individuals, the establishment of an adequate legislative mechanism was practically the only way for restoration of justice and for ending illegal imprisonment. “In view of the reality, the state should not ignore the problem, especially when the state acknowledges the problem itself,” GYLA stressed, noting that for many individuals, the restoration of justice is more important than financial compensation.
“We call on Parliament to review its decision, to analyze possible financial resources necessary for the initiation of the mentioned legislative mechanism, to work out the action plan with a view to issue compensation within reasonable terms and to direct its efforts for the implementation of the plan,” GYLA statement reads.