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Sanctions tighten for election violence

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, May 25
Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani stated that the Ministry is working on a new bill which will tighten sanctions regarding violence or threats expressed during political or electoral processes.

The initiative was the idea of the Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. He commissioned the Minister of Justice to draft a relevant bill after the Kortskheli incident when the members of the opposition United National Movement (UNM) and the representatives of Georgian Dream supporters got engaged in brutal fighting during the May 22 by-elections.

According to the bill prepared by the Justice Ministry, violence or threats at the polling stations or at/near the campaign area will become punitive under the criminal law.

The article consists of different parts. Group violence implies up to four-year imprisonment, while in case of absence of physical injuries, the punishment will be a fine or up to two years of imprisonment.

According to Tsulukiani, the bill is prepared by the analytical department of the Ministry based on the experience of the European countries and the consultations with the Prosecutor’s Office.

“The changes will be discussed at the governmental session on May 27,” stated Tsulukiani.

The opposition says that before adopting amendments to the Criminal Code, all the guilty people should be punished under the current sanctions.

The leader of the UNM, Davit Bakradze, believes the new initiative of the PM about tightening sanctions regarding violence is simply the government making excuses.

“The people guilty of perpetrating violence at Kortskheli, whose names are known to everyone, have not been questioned or detained. In these conditions, talking about the tightening of sanctions is inadequate,” said Bakradze, but added that he approves the initiative to tighten sanctions.

The Third Sector believes the problem is not in laws but in their execution.

Ana Natsvlishvili, the head of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), says there is no use in adopting laws if they are not properly executed.

“I do not think the problem is in the law. If law enforcers actually enforce the law, it is possible to bring the perpetrators to justice and react rapidly to this kind of incident,” stated Natsvlishvili.