Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Georgia

Ongoing harassment of HRIDC14

On February 1 and 2, 2006, representatives of the Ministry of the Interior came to the Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre (HRIDC) in Tbilisi and demanded to "know more about the organisation's activities".

On February 7, 2006, Major Tengiz Tkebuchava, from the Counter-Terrorism section of the Ministry of the Interior, called Mr. Ucha Nanuashvili, HRIDC executive director, to inform him that Mr. Gia Gabuniale, head of the section, wished to "familiarise himself " with the organisation's operations.

After Mr. Nanuashvili requested that an official summons justifying the request be provided to him, Mr. Tkebuchava demanded that he present himself immediately at the Ministry and threatened to have him brought by force if necessary. Mr. Nanuashvili refused to comply with the demand.

Arbitrary detention and judicial proceedings against Mr. Azer Samedov15

On March 31, 2006, Mr. Azer Samedov, president of the Caucasus Centre for the Protection of Conscience and Religious Persuasion Freedom (CCPCRPF) and an Azerbaijani national who immigrated to Georgia, was arrested in Tbilisi by officers of the anti-terrorist section of the Ministry of the Interior, on request of the Azerbaijani authorities. Mr. Samedov had left his country for Georgia following the troubles in the aftermath of the 2003 presidential election, which he had monitored.

He was accused of "participating in mass disorder" (Article 220 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code) and "resistance to State representatives" (Article 315) in relation to these troubles, which are punishable by a sentence of five to seven years' imprisonment.

On April 2, 2006, the Tbilisi Court upheld the legitimacy of Mr. Samedov's detention in the capital's Investigative Prison no. 5 for a two-month period. Mr. Azer Samedov appealed the ruling and was released on bail on April 14, 2006 following international pressure, but the charges against him remained pending.

On April 17, 2006, Mr. Samedov submitted a petition for asylum to the Georgian authorities and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR).

On August 18, 2006, his request for political asylum with the Minister for Refugees was rejected. The Minister declared that Mr. Azer Samedov sought to obtain political asylum to "develop a political platform directed against Azerbaijan". Mr. Samedov appealed against that decision. The Court held that his appeal was admissible during a preliminary hearing on October 31, 2006.

On August 21, 2006, the HCR granted him a pass valid until December 21, 2006, which was subsequently extended until February 20, 2007.

Attack against the offices of the Public Movement "Multinational Georgia"16

On June 7, 2006, the offices of the Public Movement "Multinational Georgia" (PMMG), which promotes the rights and integration of minorities in Georgia, were broken into by unidentified individuals who stole several hard disks containing documentation, including a draft alternative report on the implementation of the Convention for the Protection of National Minorities prepared by the organisation, and which was intended to be sent to the UN and the Council of Europe, as well as documents analysing the authorities' policy on minorities.

In the two weeks prior to the robbery, PMMG staff and partner organisations had been repeatedly contacted by State representatives who were trying to obtain a copy of the alternative report. Faced with refusal, the officials had said that they would obtain the report through other means.

An inquiry was opened and a ten-member special investigation unit was established. However, no outcome of the investigation had yet been made public at the end of 2006.

Moreover, during March 2006, the cars of Mr. Arnold Stepanian, president of the organisation, and of the PMMG press officer were forced open while parked in front of the association's headquarters. Work documents were stolen.

Arbitrary detention of members of the Egalitarian Institute17

On June 29, 2006, Messrs. Irakli Kakabadze, Zurab Rtveliashvili, Lasha Chkhartishvili, Jaba Jishkariani and Davit Dalakishvili, members of the Egalitarian Institute, were arrested on the order of the Tbilisi Court of Appeal, while demonstrating outside the Court to call for the release of Messrs. Shalva Ramishvili and David Kokhreidze, co-founders and shareholders of the independent television channel TV 202. They had been sentenced to four and three years in prison respectively on March 29, 2006 in respect of charges of "extortion" which were most likely fabricated.

The five members of the Institute were sentenced by the Court of Appeal without a hearing to 30 days in administrative detention, on the charge of "disorder in a Court" (Article 208 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). They were detained in the pre-trial detention centre of the Ministry of the Interior.

They were released on July 29, 2006 after completing their sentence.

On December 29, 2006, the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA) filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

On August 8, 2006, Mr. Lasha Chkhartishvili was again arrested as he was leaving a television show and held in custody in the Tbilisi police department. He was accused of insulting the Court and two individuals during a demonstration calling for the fair trial of the police officers indicted for the murder of a 19-year-old man in November 2004. He was charged with "light hooliganism" (Article 166 of the Criminal Code).

On August 9, 2006, at the end of a trial marred with irregularities, Mr. Chkhartishvili was convicted and sentenced to two days in detention by the Regional Administrative Court of Tbilisi. The verdict was upheld without a hearing by the Tbilisi Court of Appeal.

Finally, on the evening of September 27, 2006, Messrs. Irakli Kakabadze, Jaba Jishkariani, David Dalakishvili and Levan Gogichaishvili, another member of the Egalitarian Institute, were arrested in the premises of the Anti-Drug Centre in Tbilisi as they were protesting against the harassment of the Institute's members and the lack of independence of the judiciary, particularly the Court of Appeal. They were also calling for an impartial investigation into the murder of Mr. Sandro Gorgvliani, a young banker whose death was allegedly linked to several high-ranking officials within the Ministry of the Interior. All four of them were detained in a pre-trial detention centre until they appeared before the Administrative Chamber of the Tbilisi Court on September 29, 2006.

They were released on that day after paying a 15 laris fine each (about seven euros).

Threats against Ms. Lela Bekauri18

On September 21, 2006, Ms. Lela Bekauri, a member of the Rustavi section of the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA), was insulted and threatened by an unidentified man, who told her on the phone that he "would find her anywhere". A few hours earlier Ms. Bekauri had, during a press conference held by GYLA in Rustavi, condemned the irregularities marring the electoral campaign of Ms. Lela Aptsiauril, a candidate for the majority party in Rustavi, who had allegedly distributed vouchers worth 37 kilowatts of electricity.

On October 20, 2006, the local police department opened a criminal investigation into these allegations, following the complaint lodged by GYLA.

Judicial proceedings against Mr. Giorgi Getsadze19

In November 2006, Mr. Giorgi Getsadze, a member of the Ombudsman's office for Human Rights, was charged with "fraudulent activities in the examination of a case" (Article 145 of the Criminal Code) on the basis of a tapped phone conversation between himself and a colleague regarding his visit to Prison no. 8 of Geguti.

On November 1, 2006, Mr. Getsadze had visited the prison and questioned several people in the context of his investigation into allegations of money trafficking between the guards and the prisoners made by a former employee of the prison. According to the charges, Mr. Giorgi Getsadze was accused of offering money to the prison staff in exchange for information. The charges are punishable by a sentence of one to three years' imprisonment or restriction of freedom through placement in a correctional centre.

Since early 2006, the Human Rights Ombudsman's office has denounced numerous cases of human rights violations within prisons to the Public Prosecutor.

As of the end of 2006, the charges against Mr. Getsadze remained pending.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

14. See Annual Report 2005 and Urgent Appeal GEO 001/0206/OBS 013.

15. See Urgent Appeals GEO 002/0406/OBS 043 and 043.1.

16. See Urgent Appeal GEO 003/0606/OBS 080.

17. See Urgent Appeals GEO 004/0606/OBS 085 and 085.1.

18. See Urgent Appeal GEO 005/1006/OBS 115.

19. See Urgent Appeal GEO 006/1106/OBS 141.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.