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The Patriarch says he should have the right to pardon prisoners

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, December 7
Georgia’s Patriarch, Ilia II, stated on December 5, after attending a play staged by prisoners at the Rustaveli Theatre, that the country’s Catholicos Patriarch should have the right to pardon prisoners.

“From my point of view, the Patriarch should have a right to pardon prisoners. We have briefly discussed the issue with the Prime Minister and he will soon raise the topic again,” His Holiness said.

The Patriarch has blessed the participants of the play and presented them with rings. PM Irakli Gharibashvili also attended the play.

After the show was over, the country’s top official said he supported the Patriarch’s initiative and that the Patriarch could play a “very positive role” in the process of pardoning prisoners.

The PM has already appealed to Parliament and the President to discuss the issue, as based on the current Georgian legislation, only the President has the right to pardon prisoners.

Several Ministers and representatives from the ruling Georgian Dream majority have positively evaluated the initiative.

“I also think that the Patriarch should have the right to pardon prisoners. He is the spiritual leader of the nation. I don’t know any man wiser than him. Therefore, he should really have the right to pardon them,” Georgia’s Minister of Corrections Kakha Kakhishvili said.

“I support the initiative and I will vote for it,” the head of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Eka Beselia, said.

Meanwhile, several Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) grilled the country’s spiritual leader and members of the Government for the initiative and their statements.

They have stressed that if the initiative was accepted, Georgia would be a “theocratic country and not a democracy”.

They also highlighted the fact the church wanted to be directly involved in the Government’s activities, which contradicts the state constitution and would definitely cause negative international assessments.

The NGOs also stated that giving the right to the Patriarch would further decrease the already-shrunk rights of the President.

The President’s administration has not yet responded over the issue.