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An alternative report by OMCT reveals that Georgia's policy to fight against crime leads to unacceptable abuse and torture

An alternative report by OMCT reveals that Georgia’s policy to fight against crime leads to unacceptable abuse and torture

Friday, May 5, 2006 Geneva / Tbilisi – The Georgian NGOs Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, and Public Health and Medicine Development Fund of Georgia, together with the Geneva-based international NGO World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), submitted an alternative report on the human rights situation in Georgia for the 36th session of the UN Committee against Torture currently in session. On 3 & 4 May, the CAT considered the third periodic report of Georgia on the implementation of the rights contained in the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). The NGOs’ report acknowledges the positive legal steps taken by the Government after the "Rose Revolution" however they remain concerned by the human rights violations reinforced by the culture of impunity, which prevail in Georgia. "Despite numerous positive amendments made to the criminal legislation, Georgia is still far from complying with the international human rights standards including the UN Convention against Torture" said Sophio Japaridze from GYLA - Georgian Young Lawyers Association. "Prohibition of torture is still not an absolute and non derogable right according to the Constitution and can be derogated during the state of emergency or martial law" she added. According to the NGOs’ report, the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials remains one of the most serious problems in Georgia and is one of the main causes of torture and ill treatment. "The report provides an endless list of cases of violence and ill-treatment" said Patrick Mutzenberg from the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) before explaining that "the use of firearms by police officials against suspects is practised routinely and strongly supported by President Mikheil Saakashvili as well as the Ministry of Interior". The NGOs submitted that this policy is carried out in the name of the fight against crime and leads to unacceptable abuses. The Committee came to the same conclusion, recalling that the fight against crimes should strictly comply with human rights standards, including the principle of proportionality. The situation in detention centres is also alarming and was lengthily addressed by the UN Committee against Torture with specific attention on the living condition of the detainees. The overcrowded prisons and the poor sanitary conditions are a particular subject of concern and should be urgently improved as several deaths in custody are reported every year. With regard to women, there is no legislation in Georgia that criminalizes domestic violence. "Statistics show that it is therefore very difficult for the victims of domestic violence to lodge a complaint and ensure a prompt and full investigation as well as obtain fair compensation" said Mariana Duarte from OMCT. The situation of children in Georgia is also a subject of concern as children suffer from abuse and acts of violence including torture and corporal punishment, committed either by parents, teachers or other caregivers. For instance, in July 2004, the authorities closed the Juvenile's Reception, Orientation and Rehabilitation Centre located in Tbilisi following numerous incidents of torture and humiliating treatment of children. The Centre was replaced by the Children's Social Adaptation Centre but no investigation into repeated abuse was effected and no prosecution or dismissal was pronounced. "The State is very negligent with respect to the repression of cruel acts perpetrated towards children and does not comply with its international obligations and particularly the UN Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Child", explained Cécile Trochu from OMCT. The coalition of NGOs awaits the official Concluding Observations and Recommendations of the Committee on Georgia’s situation, which will be released on 19 May 2006. The NGOs will ensure that Georgia will pay full attention to those recommendations and implement them. ********************************************************************************************************************** The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), based in Geneva, Switzerland, is the largest coalition of non-governmental organisations fighting against arbitrary detentions, torture, summary and extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances and other forms of violence. The OMCT leads the SOS-Torture network, which comprises more than 280 NGOs, at the local and regional level, and regularly sends out urgent appeals and urgent cases of grave violations to thousands of recipients. ********************************************************************************************************************** Contact: Patrick Mützenberg Tel: +41 22 809 49 39
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