Tbilisi, DFWatch – Georgia eases sanctions for entering its breakaway regions without proper procedures prescribed by the law on occupied territories. Violating this law first time will entail administrative sanctions, not criminal persecution and imprisonment as it is now.

Parliament is now reviewing amendments on the law on occupied territories, adopted by Saakashvili government after Russia-Georgia war of 2008. According the law, if a person enters Abkhazia or South Ossetia without formal permission from Georgian authorities he/she will be fined for, at least, GEL 2,000 (USD1,200) or imprisonment up to 4 years period.

According to the amendments if a person crosses the border illegally first time he/she is fined for GEL 400 only (USD240) while repeated violation is still a criminal offense posing up to 1 year of imprisonment or minimum GEL 800 fine (USD480).

There were multiple cases when people, mostly tourists, visiting Abkhazia or South Ossetia and when afterwards they arrived to Georgia proper, they were detained and sometimes jailed.