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Thursday, November 19
After Visiting Georgia, CoE Human Rights Chief Says Further Efforts Needed in Justice Reform

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, who visited Georgia on November 9-13, welcomed a number of “positive achievements”, but also noted that further efforts are needed to reform the justice system and combat intolerance.

“I am heartened to see a number of positive achievements of the justice sector reforms, notably in the area of juvenile justice,” he said in a press release on November 16, summing up his trip to Georgia last week.

“It is also encouraging to see an overall decrease in recourse to pre-trial detention, although its use remains problematic in certain cases,” Muiznieks said, apparently referring to high-profile cases, including those of ex-officials from the previous government.

He said that in order to fully guarantee judicial independence, the selection, appointment and transfer of judges should be “transparent, merit-based and done in accordance with clear criteria” and judges should be “better shielded from internal and external interference, notably when it comes to high profile cases”.

The CoE Human Rights Commissioner said that the introduction of a procedure for random allocation of cases among judges, envisaged in the bill drafted by the Ministry of Justice, “would be an important step forward in this regard”.

He also said that the existence of a probationary period for newly appointed judges and non-transparent disciplinary proceedings continue to be of concern.

The CoE Human Rights Commissioner said that in spite of “stronger judicial oversight”, the use of plea bargaining continues to be of “concern in certain cases”.

On the recently amended law on the prosecutor’s office, Muiznieks said that although it brings “some improvement” to the selection and appointment procedures of the Chief Prosecutor, “more resolute action should be taken to ensure the independence and impartiality of prosecutors with a view to prevent undue political interference with their work”.

The Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, is expected to nominate three candidates for the post of Chief Prosecutor before the newly-set up prosecutorial council on November 19. The council will pick one of them, who should then be endorsed by the government and then by Parliament with a simple majority.

The CoE Human Rights Commissioner expressed concern over “certain serious instances of ill-treatment perpetrated by the police”, and cited the case of a defense lawyer Giorgi Mdinaradze as an example. Mdinaradze was assaulted in one of the police stations in Tbilisi by police officers on November 8.

“The Georgian authorities should complete effective investigations into these cases, which should lead to the adequate punishment of perpetrators,” he said.

The Commissioner also expressed concern about “certain instances of intolerance” against members of the Muslim community, noting the incidents in Mokhe and Kobuleti in 2014.

He welcomed the expressed intention of the prosecution to appeal the acquittal of those accused of violence during the 17 May 2013 rally in Tbilisi on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. A priest from the Georgian Orthodox Church and three other men were acquitted on October 22 on charges that they disrupted anti-homophobia rally in Tbilisi centre in 2013. Some civil society and human rights groups accused the prosecution of reluctance to investigate the case thoroughly, apparently due to the involvement of an Orthodox priest.

During his time in Georgia, the CoE Human Rights Commissioner also visited Batumi, as well as at the administrative boundary line with the breakaway territory of South Ossetia. (

Irma Inashvili`s supporters on hunger strike taken to hospital

Four members of the Alliance of Patriots have been taken to hospital after falling ill as a result of a hunger strike.A mong the hospitalized persons are Ada Marshania and Emzar Kvitsiani.

According to the Alliance leader, Irma Inashvili, all the participants whose health is threatened will be moved to hospital, but the rest of the party members are not going to stop their hunger strike.

Members of the party have been on a hunger strike for ten days.

Inashvili and her supporters began the strike after Inashvili was narrowly defeated by the Georgian Dream coalition candidate in by–elections in the eastern Sagarejo region.

Inashvili claims the elections were rigged. (Rustavi 2)