Georgia: Torture and ill-treatment two years after the Rose Revolution
Posted: 23 November 2005
The methods used to torture or ill-treat detainees, as indicated in reports received by Amnesty International since the "Rose Revolution", include:
Anna Sunder-Plassmann, Amnesty International's researcher on Georgia, said:
"The government should keep the eradication of torture and ill-treatment on its agenda as a priority issue. While important steps have been taken, the government still has a long way to go. A long-term approach is needed to achieve lasting results."
Eldar Konenishvili, reportedly beaten by police and currently serving a prison term in Tbilisi, told Amnesty International:
"The police officers started to beat me. They took the leg of a chair and hit me on the fingers of my left hand. During the beatings another police officer and a procurator entered and started to accuse me of a murder.
"One of the officers threatened to beat my wife, mother and children unless I confessed to the murder. During the beatings I lost consciousness several times. Blood was coming from my mouth and I couldn't see properly.
"I had difficulties moving... I did not ask for a doctor at first because I was afraid."
There have been severe shortcomings in the implementation of legal safeguards aimed at preventing torture and ill-treatment.
Anna Sunder-Plassmann said:
"The authorities should now concentrate on the implementation of legal safeguards. Any allegations that safeguards were violated should be taken seriously, and promptly and impartially investigated.
"Impunity for torture and ill-treatment is still a big problem. In dozens of cases where the procuracy has opened investigations the perpetrators have not been brought to justice.
"Amnesty International has obtained many examples of cases demonstrating that investigations into allegations of torture or ill-treatment have not been conducted in a prompt, impartial and independent manner."
In order to move forward, Amnesty International urges the authorities to implement a series of recommendations including the following:
Georgia is a party to a number of international human rights treaties setting out measures to be taken by states to prevent torture and other ill-treatment by public officials; to conduct appropriate investigations into allegations; and to provide reparation.
When the government came to power following the "Rose Revolution" in November 2003 it inherited a system in which torture and ill-treatment were widespread and perpetrators routinely went unpunished.
In the months after the change of government the situation apparently deteriorated. However, in the second half of the last year the government acknowledged the need to tackle the issue of torture and ill-treatment.
The fight against torture and ill-treatment is currently one of the key issues on the new government's agenda with regard to human rights.
In recent months the Georgian authorities have introduced or implemented a number of measures in response to ongoing reports of torture and ill-treatment. Ten police officers sentenced since the "Rose Revolution" are believed to be serving prison terms in connection with crimes amounting to torture or ill-treatment.
Extensive monitoring has been carried out under the auspices of the Ombudsman and a number of legal safeguards have been strengthened. The government's human rights record is mixed.
While positive steps have been made in some areas of human rights protection, Amnesty International has become increasingly concerned about pressure on the judiciary by the procuracy and other government authorities, allegations of government interference with freedom of the media in particular in relation to television, and allegations that police continued to fabricate criminal cases in numerous instances, in particular on drug-related charges.
The organization is also concerned that while several perpetrators of violent attacks on religious minorities that took place in recent years have been brought to justice, hundreds continue to enjoy impunity.
Other concerns include the continued risk of extradition or forcible return of people to countries where they are at risk of serious human rights violations such as torture. Many issues also remain unresolved in connection with the internationally unrecognized breakaway areas of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.