TBILISI, DFWatch–The government coalition in Georgia has proposed to reduce the maximum duration of administrative detention from 90 to 15 days. In 2012, it wanted to end the practice.
Administrative detention is a form of harsh punishment left over from Soviet times that has been criticized by Human Rights Watch.
The law from 1984 regulating such detention doesn’t provide the defendant with proper guarantees of a fair trial, and during the various Saakashvili governments (2004-2012), it was widely used as a tool against political opponents, keeping them away from demonstrations.
Vakhtang Khmaladze was in opposition during those years and frequently called for the law to be changed. Today, he chairs the judiciary committee in parliament, and has drafted a bill together with his deputy, Shalva Shavgulidze, also from the Georgian Dream coalition.
According to the bill, the term for administrative imprisonment cannot exceed fifteen days.
The authors of the bill explain that 90 day imprisonment contradicts the principle of proportionality, which is shown in legislation in European and other developed countries where there is a 15-day limit on similar forms of punishment.
But the proposal falls short of a promise made by the coalition government in October 2012, after winning the parliamentary election, to entirely do away with administrative detention. Representatives of Georgian Dream said then that this form of detention is an unfair and discriminatory practice in violation of international standards.
Shavgulidze said at the time that detention is a serious restriction of human rights and should probably only be permissible under the criminal code, not through the administrative code.