Official visit of the president of Congress to Georgia
22-25 February, Georgia – The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Anders Knape, will pay an official visit to the country. Accompanied by Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer, the President will meet in Tbilisi with the Mayor Kakha Kaladze, the Deputy Chairman of Parliament Kakhaber Kuchava, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Lasha Darsalia, the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maya Tskitishvili, and the Public Defender Nino Lomjaria. Meetings are also scheduled in Gori with the Mayor of the city and the Governor of Shida Kartli region, as well as with the Georgian Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and with the members of the Georgian delegation to the Congress.
Georgia monitors react to Tbilisi raid and arrest of opposition leader Nika Melia
The PACE monitoring co-rapporteurs for Georgia, Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ALDE), have expressed their concern at developments in Tbilisi.
“While no-one should be above the law, the police raid on the UNM Headquarters and the arrest of opposition leader Nika Melia have unnecessarily escalated tensions between the opposition and the ruling majority and deepened the political crisis in the country,” they said.
“Georgia’s democratic development needs restraint, dialogue and compromise, not escalation and confrontation,” said the two co-rapporteurs.
They called on all political forces to refrain from any actions that could further escalate tension, and to return to the negotiating table in order to find a political and mutually acceptable solution to resolve the ongoing crisis.
Public Defender’s Statement on Stripping Nikanor Melia of Parliamentary Immunity
The Public Defender of Georgia calls on the Parliament of Georgia not to consent to the use of pre-trial detention against Nikanor Melia. We also call on the Prosecutor General's Office of Georgia to use the opportunities at its disposal and reconsider the decision on application of measures of restraint.
According to the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, in order to apply a measure of restraint, it is necessary to properly substantiate its objectives and grounds. In particular, the Prosecutor’s Office must prove that a particular form of a measure of restraint is necessary, as the defendant may avoid attending the trial, hide, destroy information relevant to the case, or committ a new crime.
Violation of the measure of restraint should not be an automatic ground for ordering detention or any other strict measure. When considering the application of pre-trial detention for Nikanor Melia, the main subject of assessment should be - whether there is a need today to restrict the conduct of the defendant and whether this restriction serves the interests of justice; Moreover, more than 18 months have passed since the launch of criminal proceedings against the defendant, the investigation phase has already been completed and the case is currently being considered on its merits.
Considering that only three police officers were charged (non-custodial measures were used) with the use of excessive force against dozens of citizens and journalists during the June 20 events - the arrest of the leader of the opposition political party without proper justification of the procedural need, will be a big blow to the Georgian justice system, making it look like the practices common in non-democratic countries. And this type of international image will significantly slow down the process of western development of the country, which, along with many other benefits, implies the fundamental protection of human rights.
In view of the above, we call on the Members of Parliament to discuss and properly assess the need and necessity for the use of a measure of restraint against Nikanor Melia. At the same time, criminal prosecution and detention of leaders of opposition parties only harms the democratic image of the country and the trust in the democratic institutions of the state.
Aleksey Navalnyy: Council of Europe leaders urge Russia to respect its human rights obligations
Strasbourg, 04.02.2021 - The German Federal Government’s Special Representative for the German Presidency of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, State Minister Michael Roth, the President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Rik Daems, and the Secretary General of the 47-nation Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, have today made the following statement concerning the sentencing of Aleksey Navalnyy:
“We deeply regret the recent decision of a Moscow court to sentence Aleksey Navalnyy to a prison term. This decision is based on a criminal conviction which the European Court of Human Rights, in its Navalnyye v. Russia judgment of 17 October 2017, found to have been arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable and, as a consequence, in violation of Articles 6 and 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Russia is a party. We call upon the Russian authorities to abide by their international obligations under the Convention.
The massive, and partly violent, arrests of protesters and journalists at the recent demonstrations all over Russia are also alarming. We refer to the statement of the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner in this regard. Freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, the right to liberty and security and the right to a fair trial are fundamental rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. These rights must be strictly respected.
We call on the Russian authorities to fully investigate all reported abusive actions against peaceful protesters and journalists, and to bring those responsible to justice, in order to live up to Russia’s obligations as a member state of the Council of Europe.”
The Directorate of Communications of the Council of Europe
Meeting of Irakli Kobakhidze with Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
The Majority Leader, PACE Vice-President Irakli Kobakhidze met with Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe to discuss the cooperation between Georgia and the Council of Europe.
The conversation also touched upon the implemented and ongoing reforms in Georgia, as well as the importance of further strengthening self-government and regional policy.
The parties reaffirmed their commitment for further cooperation.
"Georgia was a very active presiding country of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the cooperation with various actors was excellent. Last year, the President of the Congress served a very fruitful visit to Georgia. We held high-level meetings where we were briefed on the results of the decentralization reform and the following steps. The Congress is interested in continuing the dialogue and we are pleased that the Georgian Parliamentary Assembly's delegation includes people who know what local and regional democracy means. The bridge between the Congress and the Parliament of Georgia will be the Vice President of the Congress, Tamar Taliashvili. We look forward to cooperating next year as well", - A. Kiefer stated after the meeting.
According to T. Taliashvili, the Secretary General of the Congress supports the ongoing reforms in Georgia.
"The Congress of the Council of Europe is the most important organization on the continent of Europe, researching and working on issues related to democracy and the rule of law in self-government. Therefore, the full support of the Secretary of this organization in connection with the ongoing reforms in Georgia is very important for our country. There will be local self-government elections in Georgia this year and the readiness of this very important organization to be a participant in these processes is one of the most vital and advanced steps for the development of local democracy in our country", - T. Taliashvili remarked.
According to G. Khojevanishvili, the Parliament of Georgia will cooperate even more actively with the Congress.
"The support of a high-ranking official such as the President of the Congress of the Council of Europe is extremely important. We had a very business meeting, we talked about important issues such as decentralization, further strengthening of self-government, strengthening of regional policy and support, so we are actively going to work more closely with the Congress in the future", - G. Khojevanishvili commented.
Irakli Kobakhidze presiding the PACE Winter Session
The Winter Session is held on January 24-29. It is the first visit of the Parliamentary Delegation in the 10th Term.
The Delegation is composed of Irakli Kobakhidze, Mariam Kvrivishvili, Givi Mikanadze, Irakli Chikovani and Tamar Taliashvili.