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On 6 August 2014, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, sent a response letter

to the American Senators. The letter stated:  “I also agree with you that the legal process surrounding the prosecution of former government officials must be above all reproach and all cases must be dealt with in a fair, transparent and impartial manner. I understand and sympathise with the concern that these prosecutions could be seen as political in nature and that this could impact Georgia’s internal political stability and foreign relations.” It also pointed out:  “The UN Human Rights Committee issued a report on 23 July 2014 calling upon our government to investigate the myriad of potential human rights abuses by the previous government that to date have been ignored.”  According to Mr Gharibashvili, the Main Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia is completely autonomous in its investigations against the previous or current government members.

FactCheck

took interest in Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement and verified its accuracy.

On 1 August 2014, American Senators James Risch, Marco Rubio, Jeanne Shaheen and John McCain addressed the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, with a letter. In the letter the Senators expressed their concern about filing charges against the members of the previous government of Georgia. The letter stated:  “The most recent and highest profile example of this is the filing of charges against former President Mikheil Saakashvili and six members of his government on 28 July 2014. Wrongdoing by any Georgian official, past or present, should be seriously investigated and dealt with under the law in a fair, transparent and impartial manner. However, as Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt noted recently, the arrest of Mr Ugulava ‘seems contradictory to Georgia’s previous commitment to the rule of law’ and we are concerned his arrest is not the only case. Consistently, attempting to advance cases through the media also speaks poorly of the intent of prosecution.”

On 10-11 July 2014, the 4th

periodic report of the Georgian Government on the implementation of an international pact on Civil and Political Rights was discussed by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva.  The Minister of Justice of Georgia, Tea Tsulukiani, was the leader of the Georgian Delegation. The summary report was adopted and sent to the Georgian side on 23 July by the UN Human Rights Committee.

The 23 July United Nations Human Rights Committee Summary Report underlines both positive and negative aspects in the field of legislation. The Committee approved various steps taken towards the protection of human rights, such as the adoption of the 2014-2020 Human Rights National Strategy and the 2014-2015 Human Rights Protection Action Plan. It also approved the 4 February 2014 decision of the Constitutional Court declaring the 5 December 2000 and 27 September 2007 directives of the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Protection of Georgia, prohibiting homosexuals from being blood donors, as unconstitutional.

The Report of the Committee also provides recommendations including the following issues:  anti-discrimination legislation, freedom of belief and religion, domestic violence, gender equality, rights of ethnic minorities and so on. The Report also says that the state must ensure the eradication of all types of discrimination. The role and functions of the Public Defender are also underlined. According to the Committee, the government must provide for the Public Defender’s Office by increasing financial resources. The Public Defender must also be granted the power of obligatory recommendations and a power to create an independent monitoring body which will observe the implementation of the Law on Anti-Discrimination. The United Nations Human Rights Committee calls upon the Georgian Government to improve the anti-discrimination legislation in order to adequately protect all citizens from all types of discrimination.

It should also be noted that the United Nations Human Rights Committee Summary Report features both the crimes committed during the 2008 war as well as the crimes committed during the office of the previous government. Chapter 11 of the Report focuses upon the crimes committed during the rule of the previous government and their investigation process. The Committee expresses its concern about the numerous crimes committed before the elections of October 2012 and thousands of complaints filed in the Main Prosecutor’s Office; however, the Committee is also concerned about the fact that the high number of charges against the previous government officials and acting opposition members could raise doubts about using the judicial system for political revenge.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee calls upon the Georgian Government to investigate the crimes committed in the past in the manner that excludes political revenge towards the members of the previous government and acting opposition. In addition, Georgia must do its best to provide the victims of crimes with adequate compensation.

It should be noted that in Chapter 12 of the Report, the Committee expresses its concern about several unfinished investigations which include:  the 2006 prison mutiny, torture of prisoners in the Gldani, Ksani, Kutaisi, Rustavi and Zugdidi prisons; dispersing the 7 November 2007 demonstration by the use of excessive force and the cases of Mereti and Karaleti where representatives of the media were subject to physical and verbal abuse. The Committee is also concerned with the fact that the investigations of the cases of torture and maltreatment are based upon Article 333 of the Criminal Code of Georgia (abuse of authority) rather than Articles 1441 (torture) or 1443 (maltreatment).

The Report also says that it is necessary to create an independent body which will investigate the cases of torture and maltreatment by the police or other law enforcement agencies.

Conclusion

Chapter 11 of the United Nations Human Rights Committee Summary Report does indeed talk about the necessity of investigation of the crimes committed during the office of the previous government, as stated by the Prime Minister. However, the Committee also calls upon the Georgian Government to investigate these crimes in the manner that excludes political revenge towards the members of the previous government and acting opposition. The Report focuses more upon investigating the crimes in this manner than the necessity of investigations. This exact reason causes the remarks and complaints from the American Senators as well as other high ranking officials of the West; however, the Prime Minister avoids this issue in his statement.

Hence, FactCheck concludes that Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement:  “The 23 July 2014 United Nations Human Rights Committee Summary Report calls upon our government to investigate the myriad of potential human rights abuses by the previous government that to date have been ignored,” is HALF TRUE.

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