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.
The United Nations family in Georgia expresses dismay at the recent suicide of a teenage girl from Kobuleti, extends its deepest condolences to the family and calls for a thorough investigation of the circumstances that led to her death.
This tragedy points to persistent stigma around rape, sexual violence and exploitation and gender inequality in Georgia, shortcomings on the part of the child protection system, along with gaps in psycho-social assessment, provision of support services and child-friendly justice for children in contact with the law.
Wherever lapses are documented, we call for a dedicated effort at improvements, whether in legislation on sexual violence, law enforcement practices, social welfare protection, child protection referral procedures or child-friendly judicial processes.
In the justice system, specialized professionals should be assigned to work on child and sexual violence cases. We also recommend creation of an integrated service for child victims of sexual violence that provides a child-friendly justice process and child psycho-social rehabilitation in one space.
Social norms and attitudes that condone sexual violence against women and girls and blame the victims or prevent professionals from reporting on the cases of violence also need to be confronted.
Immediate and energetic measures are necessary to avoid a repetition of this tragedy and to ensure that the fundamental human rights of women and girls are fully respected at all times and in all situations and that women and girls are equipped with the right knowledge and skills and they are empowered to make decisions about their present and future.
The UN in Georgia stands in solidarity and remains committed to work with the Georgian government, civil society groups, and with the human rights activists to address systemic problems that contribute to such tragedies.