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Ombudsman slams Government over human rights abuses

By Sopo Datishvili
Monday, September 29
On September 26 Georgian Public Defender Sozar Subari released a statement about the present situation in the country. This included strong criticism of the Georgian authorities.

Subari began with an appraisal of President’s political performance, in particular the human and territorial losses suffered by Georgia during the Russian-Georgian war. “Notwithstanding the promise of Georgia’s President that he would dedicate his Presidency to the reunification of Georgia, Ksani gorge, Akhalgori district, Kodori gorge, the so-called Zemo Apkhazeti, Didi and Patara Liakhvi gorges and Prone gorge have now been added to the list of lost territories – in total around 100 Georgian villages”, said the Ombudsman, who maintained that this situation had been created by the lack of an independent court system, unfair elections, violations of property rights, the demolition of buildings, “elite” corruption, the persecution and oppression of people having different views, state control over television and the lack of free and competitive political space. “The main cause of the tragedy in Georgia is the authorities’ deliberate violation of human rights. This happens in all spheres of Georgian life and these violations have already become both systematic and continuous,” says Subari.

The Ombudsman also draws attention to actions taken against street protestors, who are punished together with their family members for having different opinions. “Authoritarian rule is threatening to ruin Georgia. The only way to save the country from this peril, avoid new catastrophes, unify the country and obtain prosperity is to establish genuine and irreversible democracy”, Subari says. In his statement Subari also appeals on friendly countries and international organizations to show the authorities that holding the principles of democracy on paper and instituting an authoritarian regime in reality might lead the country into catastrophe.

Sozar Subari is sure that the way chosen by the Government won’t lead the country into Europe. He thinks that while the ruling power was building its authoritarian regime, Russia took advantage of this to execute its plan of trying to conquer Georgia. On September 27 ruling party MP Givi Targamadze responded to the Ombudsman’s statement by saying that “It is regrettable that the Public Defender has become part of the political opposition, and spends his time on things like this instead of performing his duties.” However Petre Mamradze, a member of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee in Parliament isn’t as critical of Subari’s statement as his colleague. “Human rights are more or less abused in many democratic countries. It is good that the Ombudsman highlights such facts,” Mamradze told The Messenger, also mentioning that the President’s speech at the UN as well as his annual address to Parliament indicate the President’s willingness to make Georgia a country where human rights are well protected.

In October the Ombudsman will present to Parliament his annual account of the human rights situation in Georgia. On the evidence of this latest statement, his account will definitely be very critical. Last year Parliament refused to receive the Ombudsman’s report, forcing Subari to make an alternative presentation where he read it to representatives of NGOs, the media and the diplomatic corps.