TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia’s Interior Minister says Georgia is the only country in the world where police haven’t used weapons against a criminal for three years.
“For the last three-four years no person has died from policemen’s weapon in Georgia, no policeman died by hands of criminal and even more, there hasn’t been any instances of armed resistance against police. There is no country where there hasn’t at least once happened such a thing. No person has been injured from a policeman’s weapon,” Vano Merabishvili one of the most influential ministers, told parliament during government hour.
He says Georgia’s police are armed very light, and that the reform of internal affairs has become a trade mark in good understanding and on the background that the number of criminals has significantly reduced in Georgia. He and his deputies are left much free time, so they are busy advertising the country. One milestone he mentioned is that a glass police station is soon to be built in Lithuania.
“The place is picked, where there will be built a Tbilisi Park and on one location there will be built a building analogous to Georgia’s glass police buildings.”
The minister considers this a material expression of the export of Georgian reforms and something Georgians will be proud of.
Merabishvili also said the level of trust in the police is 87 per cent, higher than any of the political parties.
“If there had been at least a very small expression that police is politicized, it wouldn’t have had such high rating.”
Despite this statement, the opposition and human right defenders often speak about politicization of the police, about how the police are harassing people, especially outside of Tbilisi, where police detain opposition activists on trumped up charges like drugs and weapons.
As an example they mention the death of Solomon Kimeridze while he was being interrogated at a police station in Khashuri in February, in a region in Western Georgia. Police claim he fell down the stairs, but a number of injuries observed on the body gave grounds to suspect that the victim had been tortured. The government and the interior ministry are categorically opposed to having an independent investigation and medical examination in the case, but the head of Khashuri police was sanctioned.
In addition, two days after a mostly peaceful opposition rally was violently dispersed by police on May 26, 2011, two dead bodies were found in the center of Tbilisi.
There’s also the case of Badri Tabatadze, who died in hospital in Zugdidi, in the far west near the Black Sea. Family members say local policemen stopped him on New Year’s night in Zugdidi, put him in a pick-up truck and took him to the police office, where they beat him and then left him lying in the road. Finally the victim died in hospital without regaining consciousness. Family members have been asking in vain to launch a criminal investigation against these policemen.