TBILISI, DFWatch — Two human rights groups in Georgia have opted out of a working group tasked with identifying political prisoners, because they believe there is too much time pressure to handle each case in a responsible way.
The working group for political prisoners came about on November 1 after the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in October appealed to member states to go through all suspected cases thoroughly.
Experts in the group have a list of 185 prisoners and 13 wanted persons and are asked to determine if they really are political prisoners.
But Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA) thinks that two weeks, the time the group plans to spend on studying all these cases, is insufficient, and rushing this process will affect the quality of the work.
“Despite several attempt by us to change the format and dates, an agreement was not achieved. This is the reason that GYLA and Article 42 of Constitution do not take the responsibility of working on these issues and leave the group. But we are ready to present our work and conclusions to the group to help them,” GYLA writes in a statement.
GYLA and Article 42 of Constitution think that the group, which not only studies political prisoners but also displaced person’s issues, will have some problems during its work.
Georgian legislation has no definition of a political prisoner, but the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly has defined it in Resolution 1900. Since Georgia is a member of CoE, the country has a responsibility to take into count this resolution during discussions about political prisoners.
GYLA plans to continue working on the issues of political prisoners and periodically inform society about their conclusions.
“The establishment of the group that works on problems of political prisoners and displaced people means that one of the priorities of the new government is to release political prisoners. That’s why parliament should approach the issue with a great deal of attention and provide fair and objective procedures. Also, it’s unknown how parliament is going to release the political prisoners and we think that information should be provided to society,” writes GYLA.