Relatives of prisoners, human rights defenders and the NGO Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights, held a rally in front of the parliament building on December 15. The protesters’ demanded the creation of a special commission identifying the shortcomings of the justice system.
Citizens demand justice
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 17
Before taking office, one of the main promises of the Georgian Dream concerned the restoration of justice. The coalition promised that those who were affected during the United National Movement’s (UNM) time in office would have their innocence proven. Accordingly, those who committed crimes and violated human rights would be punished. The coalition stated that a commission would be launched, one that would seek to identify the shortcomings of the justice system. However, Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani stated that the creation of the commission has been temporarily suspended. According to her, there is not enough money in the budget to offer compensation for each affected individual.
“We demand that they keep their promise, and release and show respect to unfairly treated people. We also demand the punishment of those who committed crimes,” said the head of Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights NGO, Nana Kakabadze. She stressed that if the demand is not met, the protesters will demand snap parliamentary elections.
Non-parliamentary opposition representative, Jondi Baghaturia, appealed to the government to listen to the people.
“Otherwise, we will find Mikheil Saakashvili and make him to stand in front of the court,” Baghaturia stated.
In the case the government does not appeal to the parliament for the creation of the commission, Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili will take steps to make this happen.
“The commission or a similar mechanism should be created for improving injustices,” Nanuashvili says.
The head of Georgia’s Bar Association Zaza Khatiasvili shares this aspiration. He emphasizes that achieving justice and a free court system are essential for the current government not to become similar to its predecessor.
The Public Initiatives Union Center believes that the commission should be established. However, they are against snap elections, which require serious budgetary funds.
The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) believes that the temporary suspension of the commission is unacceptable. The organization statement reads that there are people who might be unfairly punished and are still in prisons.
Head of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, Eka Beselia, told The Messenger that the government is working on the issue, and the commission or some other mechanism will definitely be elaborated. “We did not stop the process,” Beselia said.
Minister of Finance Nodar Khaduri states that restoration of justice remains among the government’s priorities. According to him however, the 2014 state budget does not foresee compensation.
“There is no political decision that has been made and compensatory funds have not been allocated in the budget. We also do not know where the stolen money or properties are; everything requires more time and hard work.
Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance, Sozar Subari, stated that the whole government should work together on the plan.
“Several meetings might be required,” Subari said.
Members of the parliamentary minority UNM are against of creation of the commission.