GEO 001 / 0508 / OBS 082
Arbitrary detention / Judicial proceedings
May 16, 2008
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Georgia.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the arbitrary detention of Mr. Sabir Makhetiev, one of the most active election observers of the Public Movement “Multinational Georgia” (PMMG).
According to the information received, on April 23, 2008, Mr. Sabir Mekhtiev was arrested by law enforcement authorities in Marneuli, where he was involved in pre-election monitoring prior to the forthcoming parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on May 21, 2008.
Prior to this event, Mr. Sabir Mekhtiev had been subjected to a series of attempts aimed at exerting pressure by representatives from the local branch of ProCredit Bank, where he subscribed a loan of 4,000 Georgian Lari (1,781.33 euros) in 2004, probably in order to persuade him to cease his human rights activities.
Indeed, on April 18, 2008, the representative of Gamgeoba administrative area and territorial unit Sadakhlo had called Mr. Sabir Mekhtiev, asking him to cease his activities concerning the pre-election monitoring in order to begin working for the authorities instead, and promised - in turn - to call off the Bank and law enforcement employees. A few hours later, bank representatives accompanied by 20 members of law enforcement authorities came to his house and threatened to confiscate his property in order to, according to them, pay off his outstanding debts.
The arrest of April 23, 2008 occurred subsequent to an alleged “armed resistance” of Mr. Sabir Mekhtiev towards his visitors during the April-18 visit. Accordingly, Mr. Mekhtiev was charged for his intention to go to the kitchen to get knife from there, under the Article 353, Paragraph I of the Criminal Code (“resistance, threat or violence against a defender of public order or a governmental official”) .
On April 24, 2008, the Marneuli District Court fixed a two-months detention period as preventive punishment. Mr. Sabir Mekhtiev is currently awaiting trial. However, no information could be obtained as to the place of detention of Mr. Mekhtiev and to the date of the upcoming trial.
The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the arbitrary detention of Mr. Sabir Mekhtiev as it seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities. The Observatory further recalls that as a Participating State of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Georgia must conform with paragraph 8 of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Resolution on Strengthening OSCE Engagement with Human Rights Defenders and National Human Rights Institutions, which states that the OSCE Participating States recognise “the need for particular attention, support and protection for human rights defenders by the OSCE, its Institutions and field operations, as well as by participating States”. The Observatory also urges the Georgian authorities to conform to the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on Human Rights Defenders, so as to create an environment conductive to human rights defenders, to take effective measures to protect, promote, and respect them, to ensure their access to effective remedies and to take action to prevent attacks and harassment against them.
Please write to the Georgian authorities urging them to:
- Take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Sabir Mekhtiev;
- Release Mr. Sabir Mekhtiev immediately and unconditionally, as his detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;
- Put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Sabir Mekhtiev as well as against all human rights defenders in Georgia;
- Comply with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration
- Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Georgia.
- Mr. Mikhail Saakashvili, President, State Chancellery, 7 Ingorokhva Street, 380034 Tbilisi, Georgia; Tel : +995 32 99 96 53; Fax : +995 32 99 92 00; E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
- Secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia, 7 Ingorokhva Street. 380034 Tbilisi, Georgia, Tel: +995 32 93 23 22 ; Fax: +995 32 98 99 72 ; E-mail: email@example.com
- Mr. Ivane Merabishvili, Minister of Interior, Ministry of Interior of Georgia, Tel: +995 32 99 62 96 / 99 80 50 / 99 95 55; Fax: +995 32 98 71 46 / 99 95 24; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ms. Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights Petitions and Relations with the Civil Society, Parliament of Georgia, 8 Rustaveli Avenue. 380018 Tbilisi, Georgia; Tel: +995 32 99 69 51; Fax: +995 32 92 15 63 / 92 33 50
- Mr. Nika Gvaramia, Minister of Justice, 19, Griboedov st, Tbilisi, 380008, Georgia, Tel: +995 32 93 27 21 / 93 50 49 / 75-82-22; Fax: +995 32 93 02 25 / 75-82-22 ; Email: email@example.com
- General Prosecutor of Georgia, 24 Gorgasali st, 380014, Tbilisi, Georgia; Tel:+995 32 98 21 54 / 93 23 44 / 93 68 45 / 99 06 68; Fax: +995 32 98 21 70
- Ombudsman of Georgia, 11, Machabeli street, Tbilisi 0107, Georgia, Phone: + 995 32 92 39 60 / 92 24 78 / 92 24 81 / 93 15 85; Fax: + 995 32 92 24 70; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Human Rights Service of the National Security Council, Tel: + 995 32 93-13-22 ; Fax: + 995 32 92-35-58
- Mr. Levan Mikeladze, Ambassador, Permanent mission of Georgia to the United Nations in Geneva, Rue Richard Wagner 1, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 733 90 33 ; Email: email@example.com
- Ambassador Mr. Salomé Samadaschvele, Diplomatic Mission of Georgia to Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 732 85 47
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Georgia in your respective countries.
Geneva - Paris, May 16, 2008
Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax: FIDH : +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 33 (0) 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT : + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 (0) 22 809 49 29
Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org