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Georgia
23.03.07
Urgent Interventions

New arbitrary detention of Mr. Jaba Jishkariani

New information
GEO 004 / 0606 / OBS 085.2
Arbitrary detention / Harassment
Georgia
March 23, 2007

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), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Georgia.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre (HRIDC) of the new arbitrary detention of Mr. Jaba Jishkariani, a member of the “Egalitarian Institute”, a newly-established Georgian NGO composed of human rights defenders, writers and intellectuals.

According to the information received, on March 19, 2007, Mr. Jaba Jishkariani was arrested after being sentenced on the same day to 30 days in prison for “disrespect to the court” (Article 208 of the Criminal Code of Georgia), by the Juvenile Court. Mr. Jishkariani was then attending the hearing in the trial against Mr. Giorgi Zerekidze, a juvenile prisoner (14 years old), along with other members of the civil society.

In 2006, Mr. Giorgi Zerekidze had been found guilty by the Tbilisi City Court of “attempted murder” and “hooliganism” and sentenced to ten years in prison. On July 18, 2006 the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had expressed its deep concern following the sentence of Mr. Giorgi Zerekidze and called on Georgia to follow its commitments to ensure the full implementation of international juvenile justice standards under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by Georgia in 1994.

On March 19, 2007, the Court of Appeals in Tbilisi reduced Mr. Giorgi Zerekidze’s sentence to seven years’ imprisonment. Following to this decision, Mr. Jishkariani reproached the Court its lack of independence and said that the sentence was unfair. He also accused the Court Marshals (guardians) of being the “slaves of Mr. Ivane Merabishvili [Minister of Internal Affairs]”.

Mr. Jaba Jishkariani, who appealed his detention on March 20, 2007, is currently detained at the pre-trial detention centre at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern regarding the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Jaba Jishkariani, which only seems to aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and recalls that he has already been arrested twice in 2006 (See background information).

Background information:

On June 29, 2006, Mr. Jaba Jishkarinani and four other members of the Egalitarian Institute, Mr. Irakli Kakabadze, Mr. Zurab Rtveliashvili, Mr. Lasha Chkhartishvili and Mr. David Dalakishvili, were arrested upon order of the Head of the Appellate Court of Tbilisi, while 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 charges [1]. 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 Ms. Eka Tkeshelashvili, the Head of the Court of Appeals, 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. They were all released at an unknown date.

On the evening of September 27, 2006, Mr. Jaba Jishkarinani was again arrested, along with Mr. Irakli Kakabadze, Mr. David Dalakishvili and Mr. Levan Gogichaishvili, also members of the Egalitarian Institute, by patrol policemen in the Drug Centre Building in Tbilisi. They were demonstrating against the recurrent detention of some Institute members, as well as the lack of independence of the judiciary, in particular of the Court of Appeal. They also called for an impartial investigation into the murder of Mr. Sandro Gorgvliani, a young banker whose death is allegedly linked to high-ranking officials in the Ministry of the Interior.

Mr. Kakabadze was originally detained for expressing verbal protest against the government, whereas the others were arrested for writing anti-violence slogans on the asphalt. They were held at a pre-trial detention centre in Tbilisi until their appearance before the Administrative Chamber of the Tbilisi City Court on September 29, 2006. They were all released after paying a fine of 15 laris each (about 7 euros).

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Georgia urging them to:

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Jaba Jishkarinani;
  2. Release him immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary;
  3. Put an end to acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Georgia;
  4. 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”; as well as article 23.1 of the Concluding Document of the Vienna Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in particular article 23.1 which states that “no one will be subjected to arbitrary arrest [or] detention”;
  5. 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. 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: geomission.geneva@bluewin.ch
  • Ambassador Mr. Salomé Samadaschvele, Diplomatic Mission of Georgia to Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 732 85 47
  • 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. 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: 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, March 23, 2007

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

[1] The authorities accused them of having blackmailed Mr. Koba Bekaouri, a member of Parliament (MP) in the ruling party, 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 allegedly told the MP that they were preparing their next investigative programme on official corruption.

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