TBILISI, DFWatch — The former government in Georgia accuses the new government of having illegally granted prisoners status as political prisoners, but new the government denies the accusation.
After a parliamentary committee recognized 186 persons as political prisoners, and 22 as political refugees, some suspected that the process of recognition was not fair, because most of the people on the list are unknown to the public.
“There are very bad and dangerous signals in this so-called political prisoners’ list. It is also alarming and unclear why we have an attempt at parliament establishing the definition of political prisoner on a legislative level. That’s why I want to ask whether the political majority shares the political status of all 200 persons,” said Davit Sakvarelidze from the minority in parliament.
Two well-known human rights organizations – Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA) and 42th Article of Constitution – recently left the group which studied the cases of political prisoners and refugees, because, they argued, there was too much time pressure and the process was poorly conducted.
GYLA chair Tamar Chugoshvili says that at first all agreed to study each case and analyze whether they would fit with standards of the Council of Europe, but later there were problems.
“We faced large resistance from several members,” she said, and indicated that human rights activist Nana Kakabadze informed prisoners about the decisions of the groups in the committee regarding each prisoner, and this led to aggression from prisoners. There was harassment against those members of the group who refused to include in the list certain prisoners. Kakabadze denies this version.
The draft resolution on political prisoners and refugees, which was prepared by parliament’s human rights committee, was postponed till the next session, but the official reason for the delay was that the working group needed an additional two weeks to review errors and appeals and study other cases.
Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili also commented, saying that he will personally oversee the process.