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Georgia
30.06.06
Urgent Interventions

Georgia: Arbitrary detention of five members of the "Equality Institute"

GEO 004 / 0606 / OBS 085
Arbitrary detention
Georgia

June 30, 2006

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Georgia.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre (HRIDC) and the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association about the arbitrary arrest and subsequent detention of five members of the “Equality Institute”, a Georgian NGO, while they were demonstrating outside the Court of Appeal of Tbilisi.

According to the information received, on June 29, 2006, Mr. Irakli Kakabadze, Mr. Zurab Rtveliashvili, Mr. Lasha Chkhartishvili, Mr. Jaba Jishkariani and Mr. Davit Dalakishvili, all members of the “Equality Institute”1, were arrested upon order of the Head of the Appellate Court of Tbilisi, while demonstrating outside the Court building. They were calling for the release of Mr. Shalva Ramishvili and Mr. David Kokhreidze, co-founders and shareholders of the independent TV company TV 202, which, in particular, broadcasts a programme called “Debatebi” (debates), dealing with issues like government corruption or lack of reform in favour of democracy. The two men were respectively sentenced to four and three years of prison for “extortion” on March 29, 2006, on the basis of fabricated charges2. They had been arrested on August 27, 2005.

The five men were immediately sentenced to 30 days of administrative imprisonment, without any Court hearing, by the Head of the Court of Appeals Ms. Eka Tkeshelashvili, for “staging disorders in a court”(Article 208 of the Criminal Procedural Code), and brought to the pre-trial detention centre of the Ministry of Interior, where they remain detained.

The Observatory points out that Article 208 of the Criminal Procedure Code only envisages responsibility for disorders in the Court building, though the demonstrators were staying outside. In addition, this sentence blatantly contradicts the Constitution of Georgia as well as the European Convention on Human Rights as, pursuant to Article 208 of Criminal Code Procedure of Georgia, it was taken without any oral hearing and cannot be appealed.

Furthermore, the Observatory fears for Mr. Irakli Kakabadze’s health, who suffers from severe form of diabetes.

1 The “Equality Institute” is a newly established NGO in Georgia, members of which are writers, human rights defenders, poets, and intellectuals.

2 The authorities accused them of having blackmailed a member of Parliament (MP) in the ruling party, Mr. Koba Bekaouri, during an interview, extracting 150,000 dollars from him. According to the charges against them, the two journalists tried to sell their silence because they had compromising information about the MP, relating to the acquisition of a private customs clearance company in dubious circumstances. They would have said to the MP that they were preparing their next investigative programme on official corruption.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Georgia urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Irakli Kakabadze, Mr. Zurab Rtveliashvili, Mr. Lasha Chkhartishvili, Mr. Jaba Jishkariani and Mr. Davit Dalakishvili;

ii. Ensure that Mr. Irakli Kakabadze has access to appropriate medical treatment;

iii. Order their immediate and unconditional release and ensure that they be granted a fair and impartial trial so that the charges against them be dropped, as they aim at sanctioning their freedom of expression and are as such arbitrary;

iv. Put an end to acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Georgia;

v. Comply with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, article 5c, which provides the right “to communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organisations”, and article 12.2, which declares that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or 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”;

vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by Georgia.

Addresses:

  • 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 : pr@president.gov.ge

  • Mr. Konstantin Korkelia, Secretary, 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: snsc@gol.ge

  • Human Rights Service of the National Security Council: Tel: + 995 32 93-13-22 ; Fax: + 995 32 92-35-58

  • 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: presscenter@pol.ge

  • Ms. Elene Tevdoradze; 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. Gia Kavtaradze, 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: justice@justice.gov.ge

  • Mr Zurab Adeishvili, 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

  • Mr Sozar Subari, 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: info@ombudsman.ge

  • Mr. Alexander Chikvaidze, 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: geomission.geneva@bluewin.ch

  • Ambassador Mr. Salomé Samadaschvele, Diplomatic Mission of Georgia to Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 732 85 47


Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Georgia in your respective country.
***
Geneva - Paris, June 30, 2006

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code 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:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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