Ombudsman’s human rights report highlights triumphs, shortcomings

Criminal policy liberalization has been named among most valuable achievements by the Public Defender., 01 Apr 2014 - 02:09, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Public Defender of Georgia has published his annual report on the state of human rights in Georgia.

Ucha Nanuashvili praised the areas where the country gained success and mentioned other areas where work still needed to be done.

The 2013 report highlighted civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in broad terms, and focussed on the positive and negative trends identified in the field of human rights. It ended with Nanuashvili summarizing key recommendations on how to develop the nation further.

One standout feature of the report was the spike in the number of people who applied to the Public Defender’s Office. In 2013, 11,000 people applied to the Office, which was double the amount recorded in the previous reporting year.

This high number was assessed as "increased expectations towards the Public Defender’s Office”, as the country had raised awareness about rights violation and existence of a free environment in Georgia.

Another noteworthy feature of the report was the Public Defender’s comment stating torture and ill-treatment of prisoners was not a major challenge anymore, thanks to political will and implemented reforms.

Nanuashvili said the most valuable achievement in the field of human rights could be named the Criminal Policy Liberalization – which had been the subject of his recommendation for many years.

In the report, Nanuashvili said the Criminal Policy Liberalization had significantly contributed to reducing the number of people in prisons.

"There have not been any instances of torture in the penitentiary institutions but such facts were intensified at the end of the year. On the other hand, the level of intolerance towards different groups in some cases, has not been adequately responded to yet,” read the report.

The Public Defender praised the large-scale amnesty of prisoners implemented on December 28, 2012, but stated the justice restoration process could not be limited to only one single act of amnesty.

He also welcomed the fact that for the first time in history, the Ministry of Internal Affairs recognised illegal surveillance and a vast number of inappropriately collected materials were destroyed.

Another interesting fact revealed in the report was Nanuashvili’s assessment that most of the demonstrations held in Georgia last year were held peacefully and without excesses, however there were exceptions where the Government failed to secure the freedom of assembly guaranteed by the Constitution on May 17, 2013.