Amnesty International, a London-based non-governmental organization focused on human rights, says that reform of Georgia’s criminal justice system, including the creation of an independent mechanism to investigate alleged human rights violations by police, should be the top priority of Georgia’s new government.
In its report, the organization speaks about the murder cases of two teenagers – Davit Saralidze and Levan Dadunashvili, saying that on 31 May one teenager was convicted of the premeditated murder of Levan Dadunashvili and a teenage co-defendant found guilty of the attempted murder of Davit Saralidze. No one was found guilty of the murder of Davit Saralidze.
“The investigation into the murder of the two teenagers is not the first case to cause widespread concern about criminal justice in Georgia,” the report reads, and mentions the Temirlan Machalikashvili case.
Temirlan Machalikashvili, 19, was killed by Georgian security forces in December 2017 during a counter-terrorism operation in the Pankisi Gorge, near the border with Chechnya, Russian Federation.
Amnesty International says according to the official account, Temirlan was shot dead as he tried to throw a grenade at members of the security forces. His father Malkhaz Machalikashvili claims that his son was at the time lying on a bed, holding a mobile phone, not a grenade, and denies that Temirlan Machalikashvili had links with suspected terrorists.
“Georgian authorities were slow and reluctant to launch an investigation into his killing, but did so eventually. At the time of writing, no tangible outcomes of the investigation have been reported,” the report reads.
The organization added that Georgian authorities have long promised to create an independent investigation mechanism for alleged human rights violations by police and other state officials. The report says that it was not until this year that a draft law on the State Inspector’s Office was submitted to the prliament for consideration, several years after it was first promised.
“The draft law has been widely criticized. The independence of the proposed State Inspector’s Office is seriously compromised as the Prosecutor’s Office is to retain a “supervisory role”. There is also concern that the new agency will operate jointly with the Office of the Personal Data Protection Inspector, and that as a result neither will be truly effective or independent,” the report says.
Amnesty International included several recommendations into the report. The Georgian government should:
- Ensure that a truly independent mechanism for the investigation of abuses by police and other state officials is created without delay
- Ensure that investigation of crimes by law enforcement officials complies with the requirements of the European Court of Human Rights
- Take all necessary steps to address the credibility deficit in the country’s criminal justice system more widely
- Ensure that an impartial, independent and prompt investigation into the killings of Davit Saralidze and Temirlan Machalikashvili is conducted.
By Thea Morrison
20 June 2018 09:08