Public Defender Expresses Support for Amnesty Bills
The Parliament of Georgia is considering an amnesty draft law submitted by Mikheil Sarjveladze. An alternative amnesty draft law will also be submitted to the Parliament by the Lelo Party. The Public Defender of Georgia welcomes these initiatives and hopes that the Parliament will consider and adopt the amnesty law in a short period of time, which will be in line with the basic principles of criminal justice and the positive obligations of the State towards victims and will apply to a lot of prisoners, who have been in the penitentiary system during the Covid pandemic.
As soon as the pandemic started, the Public Defender actively called on the State to use all available mechanisms to reduce the prison population. Although the rate of application of a number of mitigation measures increased in 2020 (e.g. the statistics on the mitigation of the unserved part of a sentence), the rate of releasing prisoners on parole decreased. The Public Defender hopes that the Parliament of Georgia will take into account the severity of additional restrictions of the rights of prisoners in the context of the pandemic and will compensate their situation with amnesty as much as possible.
The Public Defender of Georgia
The Chair of the Legal Issues Committee parliament of Georgia held a meeting with the EU Ambassador
The Chair of the Legal Issues Committee parliament of Georgia Anri Okhanashvili held a meeting with the EU Ambassador Pawel Herczynski.
As A. Okhanashvili noted after the meeting, he informed the Ambassador about the compliance with the EU recommendations and the plans of the Committee.
“We enjoy close collaboration and communication with the EU Ambassador and his visit to the Parliament underlines his commitment to further keeping close cooperation with us. It is truly a positive decision of the Ambassador to meet the Chairs of all Committees”, - he noted.
PARLIAMENT ENDORSING BILL ON DEOLIGARCHIZATION IN I READING
The Parliament endorsed the Bill on Deoligarchization in I reading with 80 to 9 votes. The document has been elaborated in compliance with EC’s 12 recommendations proposed for Georgia.
The following matters are governed by the proposed law: The definition of the term "oligarch"; the issues of identifying someone as an oligarch and having them entered into the appropriate register; the issues of having someone removed from the register of oligarchs and the production of that register; the legal repercussions of doing so; the issues of certain people having to fill out declarations regarding their contact with the oligarch and their representative.
According to the document, an oligarch is a natural person who simultaneously satisfies at least three of the following conditions in order to have significant economic and political influence in public life: participates in political life; has a significant influence on mass media; is an ultimate beneficiary of the entrepreneurial legal entity, which occupies a dominant position in the market and which maintains or exercises this position for 1 year; the confirmed amount of his assets and those of entrepreneurial legal entities where he is a beneficiary, as of January 1 of the relevant year, exceeds 1,000,000 times the subsistence minimum established for able-bodied persons.
The Parliament of Georgia makes a decision on recognition of a person with significant economic and political weight in public life (oligarch).
ADDRESS OF THE SPEAKER, SHALVA PAPUASHVILI TO THE PACE PRESIDENT, TINY KOX
The Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Shalva Papuashvili, wrote a letter to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Martinus Tiny Kox, stating that the inclusion of Mikheil Saakashvili in the amendment to the Resolution changes the essence and spirit of the Resolution and undermines the fundamental values of PACE and the credibility of the organisation in upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law across Europe. "News Day Georgia" offers this statement in full:
To the PACE President, Tiny Kox
A long-standing partnership of the Parliament of Georgia with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe allows me to address you with regards to Resolution 2463 (2022): “Further escalation in the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, debated under the urgent procedure of the fourth part of the ordinary session. Despite our full solidarity to Ukraine in the face of the Russian aggression, approval of the following amendment has prevented the members of the Georgian Delegation from supporting the Resolution: “the Assembly calls on the Russian authority for the immediate release of Vladimir Kara-Murza. The Assembly also calls for a review of cases of other political prisoners opposed to Putin in the Russian Federation and other countries, and for their release (including Mikheil Saakashvili – a Ukrainian citizen and former President of Georgia)”.
We believe that the inclusion of Mikheil Saakashvili in this amendment (a) changes the essence and spirit of the Resolution, and (b) undermines the fundamental values of PACE and the credibility of organization in upholding human rights, democracy and rules of law across Europe. The European Court of Human Rights issued over 100 judgements during Mr. Saakashvili’s rule, including 13 cases on Article 2 (right to life), 34 cases on Article 3 (prohibition of torture), 15 cases on Article 5 (right to liberty and security), and 44 cases on Article 6 (right to a fair trial). Moreover, the Court underlined in its Alexander Girgvliani murder case (Enukidze and Girgvliani v. Georgia) that Mr. Saakashvili hindered an effective investigation and appropriate punishment.
The Report on Human Rights Development in Georgia in 2004-2012 made by Mr. Thomas Hammamberg, former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU Special Adviser on Constitutional and Legal Reform and Human Rights in Georgia in 2013 is a testament to systemic violations of the Convention-related rights during Saakashvili’s presidency. It identifies an alarming situation in areas of judiciary, penitentiary, law enforcement, rights of minorities, rights to take part in public affairs, freedom of expression, assembly and association, and social justice. Mr. Saakashvili has been convicted in Georgia in two criminal cases (the one on the above-mentioned Girgvliani case and the other on organizing an attack against opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili).
Three other criminal cases are pending (on the exceeding and abusing of official powers during the breaking up of anti-government protests on November 7, 2007, and the subsequence seizure of Imedi TV, an independent television broadcaster; on embezzlement of funds from the State Protection Service for personal use; and on illegal crossing of the Georgian state border). The ECHR refused to accept Mr. Saakashvili’s case regarding his treatment by Georgia’s penitentiary system. ECHR has found there were no “special circumstances” in the application relating to respect for human rights, which would have required the body to continue the examination of the case.
The decision of the European Court has once again confirmed that the rights and interests of Mikheil Saakashvili were fully protected in the penitentiary system per the standards of the ECHR. Georgia has both a clear track record of protecting human rights, democracy and rule of law since 2012 and closely cooperating with the ECHR in implementing its judgements. Georgian cases to the ECHR dropped 5,5 times in 2013-2021 compared to Mr. Saakashvili’s rule in 2004-2012, owing to the progress in credibility, independence and professionalism of the Georgian courts.
This progress has been duly reflected in the Resolution 2438 “The honoring of obligations and commitments by Georgia” adopted by the Assembly during the second part of the 2022 ordinary session. Having this in mind, we believe there is no evidence of political motivations in the charges against Mr. Saakashvili other than politically-driven speculations. Therefore, the adoption of language as in amendment 4 represents an unsubstantiated challenge for the Georgian legal system, invites unjustified suspicion against our country in international fora and undermines Georgia’s reform progress in human rights and the rule of law since 2012.
More importantly, the unfounded provisions on Mr. Saakshvili jeopardize the credibility of PACE within the wider Georgian public and erode our efforts to solidify support for the ambitious reform agenda aligned with recommendations of the relevant PACE resolutions.
We remain hopeful that PACE members will in future be guided only by the best interests of the organization and its fundamental values. We stand ready to provide detailed insight on any issue of your interest about Georgia. Please, accept, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration and esteem.
The Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia
SHALVA PAPUASHVILI TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FIRST PARLIAMENTARY SUMMIT OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMEA PLATFORM
The Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili and the Parliamentary Delegation serve the visit to Zagreb, Croatia on October 24-26 to participate in the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform.
The Speaker delivers a speech at the Summit.
The visit also includes bilateral meetings of the Speaker and the Delegation members.
The Summit is attended by 43 Delegations of 32 Parliaments, 5 international organizations and 26 Speakers. The program includes the plenary session and the panels.
The Parliamentary Delegation of Georgia is composed of the Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili, Vice-Speaker Archil Talakvadze and the Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Nikoloz Samkharadze.
WORKING MEETING OF MEMBERS OF OPPOSITION PARTIES WITH CIVIL SECTOR
According to the administration of the Parliament of Georgia, members of the faction "National Movement - Strength is in Unity" and political groups "Lelo - Partnership for Georgia" and "Reforms Group", as well as independent MPs, held a working meeting with representatives of non-governmental organizations regarding EC’s 12 recommendations.
The parties discussed the legislative measures required for the execution of the aforementioned suggestions and gave their perspectives on each one.
"We began the implementation phase of EC’s recommendations in close collaboration with the civil sector. In all twelve directions, we summarized the current state of affairs. We talked about 4-5 themes that are being created as legislative initiatives as well as 7-8 specific draft laws. It was discovered that extra meetings are required in a number of sectors. We continue to believe that in order to accomplish this crucial phase, Georgia's forces must be united as a whole. There are a couple of issues that we have also identified where we might back a political product developed with input from members of the ruling team. The most important thing is that we begin the autumn session with serious thoughts and ideas related to this specific issue. The government's ideas and problems are welcome for discussion. Because Europe anticipates us to have solidified and agreed-upon positions, we are prone to seeking consensus", - David Usupashvili, Chairman of the political group "Lelo - Partnership for Georgia” stated.
"The work procedure is actually coming to a close. Only four topics — justice, de-oligarchization, electoral reforms, and media-related issues — will be the subject of additional civil sector perspectives next week. The final text will therefore be made available to the public following the gathering of these four working groups. By the middle of September, we anticipate submitting those legislative packages to the Parliament that have not yet been registered", - Giorgi Vashadze, a member of the political group "Reforms Group" stated.
He also thanked his opposition colleagues and representatives of the civil sector for their active cooperation in the working groups and noted that this is exactly the process that Georgia needs to get the status of the European Union.
"We will uphold a document that we can call - "Mechanism for rapid accession to EU candidate status". This will be a document that we will sign with its legislative amendments", - Giorgi Vashadze added.