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GYLA Files Appeal with Constitutional Court against Monitoring of Private Internet Communications

On September 20, 2011, GYLA filed an appeal with Constitutional Court seeking recognition of the norms of the Law of Georgia on Operative and Investigative Activities that allow law enforcers to monitor private communications on the Internet as unconstitutional. GYLA is seeking determination of whether the impugned norms comply with Article 19 (freedom of speech and expression) and Article 20 (right to privacy) of the Constitution of Georgia. On September 24, 2010, the law of Georgia on Operative and Investigative Activities was amended, allowing law enforcers to monitor private communications on the Internet. The proposed legal formulation is obscure and allows for various interpretations. Format of private internet communications is a personal, intimate field of an individual, protected by Article 20 of the Constitution of Georgia. Mandatory requirement for such intrusion in one’s personal life is court’s warrant or existence of urgent necessity. None of these conditions are envisaged by norms impugned by GYLA but rather court control on monitoring of private internet communications are directly ruled out.

2011-09-27 07:29 See more

Petition Of The Member Organizations Of The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Georgian National Platform

Member organizations of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Georgian National Platform express their concern over the illegal dispersal and detention of  striking trade union members from Kutaisi metallurgical plant Herkulesi with some of them on hunger strike, which took place in the evening of September 15, 2011. According to the information provided by the Trade Unions Confederation, a member of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Georgian National Platform, workers of Herkulesi Plant were exercising their right to strike guaranteed by Article 33 of the Constitution of Georgia, requesting improvement of unbearable working conditions at the factory and reinstatement of their 17 colleagues to work that have been fired for pursuing trade union activities. Full-scale strike that began on September 13 was preceded by a token strike on September 2. Procedures of strike were implemented in full compliance with the requirements of the Georgian legislation. Therefore, the decision of the law enforcement agencies to disperse the strike lacked legal grounds. Member organizations of the Georgian National Platform condemn the illegal actions of law enforcement agencies and strongly believe that the following fundamental rights – right to strike, right to freedom of assembly and association, right to collective bargaining, and freedom of labor were violated. The noted action also contains elements of crimes punishable under the Criminal Code of Georgia, such as infringement of the right to strike, illegal encroachment on personal freedom, infringement of the right to assembly and manifestation, prosecution and discrimination based on trade union affiliation.

2011-09-23 08:19 See more

GYLA’s Statement about Dispersal of “Herkulesi” Workers’ Strike

On September 15, 2011, the police dispersed the strike of workers of Herkulesi – a metallurgical factory in Kutaisi. The workers on strike demanded improvement of working conditions at the factory. The right to go on strike is guaranteed by the Labor Code, which stipulates that strike is a temporary voluntary refusal by an employee to partially or fully fulfill his/her obligations under the labor contract, with the purpose of regulating subsequent relations within the frames of a labor dispute. The dispute between the factory administration and workers has been ongoing for several months already. The written list of workers’ requirements was submitted to the factory administration but the latter failed to react. Afterward, the factory workers, in compliance with Article 49 of the Labor Code, held a token strike and after 24 hours following the token strike, Herkulesi workers’ right to strike arose. As for the right of assembly and manifestation of the strikers, which they enjoyed since the first day of going on strike, the police grossly interfered with the right by dispersing and detaining the strikers. Representatives of GYLA Kutaisi office had been monitoring the strike since the very first day. According to our information, the strike was held in full compliance with the Law of Georgia on Assemblies and Manifestations. The strikers had occupied the factory premises without blocking traffic or the factory entrance. It is proved by footage broadcasted by media. Therefore, we strongly believe that the law enforces had no legal grounds to interfere with the strike and obstruct the workers right to go on a strike.

2011-09-18 07:55 See more

Opinions on draft amendments to the Election Code of Georgia

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), Transparency International – Georgia, the New Generation – New Initiative (nGnI) and the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) have been actively observing the process of negotiations for improvement of election environment. On June 30 we, the organizations, expressed our strong position on the issues agreed by eight political parties, having assessed hem as insufficient for actual improvement of Election Legislation. On August 1, representatives of non-governmental organizations attended the meeting of a special editorial group discussing the draft of pending amendments to the Election Code. We think that legislative formulations of agreement reached among eight political parties examined at the editorial group meeting, require significant elaboration. Even if they are developed, we still consider improper to limit the process of improving election environment to only discussion of agreed issues, considering their insignificance. It should be noted that the draft submitted at the working group meeting of the editorial group did not concentrate on number of important issues such as: specification of voters’ lists, establishment of special commission for monitoring, interagency coordination council and the rule of its operation and media monitoring.

2011-09-14 09:33 See more

Member organizations of Georgian National Platform of Eastern Partnership Civil Society National Forum declare their solidarity to GYLA

On September 6, 2011 the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) submitted to public independent forensic report from DAS Fingerprints/Forensics Ltd. (forensic bureau established in UK) regarding circumstances of Nika Kvintradze’s death, one of the persons who died during the developments of May 26. The report contains important information for investigation of circumstances of Nika Kvintradze’s death. Following the publication of independent forensic findings, the Ministry of Interior accused GYLA in deliberate dissemination of false facts. Representatives of state authorities made incorrect comments towards GYLA blaming the organization for involvement in “political games”. At the same time, Kurieri news on Rustavi 2 and Kronika news on Imedi for several days broadcasted reports prepared in full disregard of journalistic standards and ethic norms aimed to discredit GYLA. We are particularly concerned that GYLA’s right to get and disseminate professional information that is inseparable and important part of human rights’ NGO questioned as opposed to credibility of forensic findings.

2011-09-14 08:27 See more

GYLA Held a Rally outside the Interior Ministry

On September 9, 2011, at 4:30 p.m., the Georgian Young Lawyers Association held a rally/walking from the building of Interior Ministry to the office of the General Prosecutor of Georgia. After the Georgian Young Lawyers Association published findings of a British forensic analysis bureau regarding the case of Nika Kvintradze’s death during the May 26 developments, both the authorities and media have been waging attacks against GYLA. Regrettably, instead of the authorities providing answers to legitimate questions, reports prepared in violation of journalistic standards and ethic norms and aimed at discrediting GYLA have been broadcasted for the last couple of days. They constitute attacks against the organization rather then a discussion on effective investigation into the case.

2011-09-12 07:03 See more

Solidarity Rally of Georgian NGOs outside GYLA Office

Representatives of NGOs held a solidarity rally in support of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association on September 8, at 1:00 pm, outside the office of GYLA. They declared their solidarity to GYLA that has been subject to incorrect comments by the authorities after it published findings of a British forensic analysis bureau regarding the case of Nika Kvintradze who died during the May 26 developments. Furthermore, some media outlets broadcasted reports aimed to discredit GYLA. NGOs participating in the solidarity rally released a special petition.

2011-09-09 07:15 See more

GYLA Releases its Comment in response to the Statement of the Ministry of Interior Affairs

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association responds to the statement of the Ministry of Interior Affairs about Kvintradze case. First of all, GYLA would like to underline that the released information is based on the findings of an independent forensic analysis bureau, which explicitly indicates that images on photo and video materials submitted by GYLA belong to one and the same person. Therefore, MIA’s allegation that GYLA has intentionally distorted facts is groundless. We believe that for the purposes of conducting thorough, objective and effective investigation into the case, MIA should have first and foremost examined evidence obtained by GYLA. Instead, MIA made statements without examining findings of the forensic image analysis, a priori ruling out credibility of the evidence and declared that GYLA distorted facts. In its statement MIA maintains that a person in the photograph is Giorgi Bakradze who currently live sin Kareli. MIA also released a recording of Giorgi Bakradze’s interview concerning the fact; however, the Ministry’s comments do not indicate that the investigation conducted forensic photo analysis of for identifying the person. The Ministry’s statement makes it clear that the efforts of investigation was limited to Giorgi Bakradze’s statement and his visual comparison with photos and declared the criminal case closed.

2011-09-07 10:19 See more

GYLA Publishes Important Findings it has obtained in the Case of Deprivation of Nika Kvintradze’s Life

Following May 26, GYLA has been actively working on the facts of human rights violations during the rally dispersal. In the nearest future, GYLA will publish a thorough report prepared about these issues. Together with other issues, the report also focuses on analysis of cases of deprivation of lives during the rally dispersal. While working on the cases of deprivation of lives of Nika Kvintradze and Suliko Asatiani, GYLA obtained important evidence producing substantiated doubts about the official version of the case published by the Ministry of Interior Affairs. Therefore, GYLA deems it expedient to inform public about the evidence in a timely manner and demand corresponding response from the authorities. Namely, On August 17, with regard to the case of deprivation of life of Nika Kvintradze, GYLA asked DABS Fingerprints/Forensics Ltd1 to carry out forensic image comparison of photo and video materials allegedly showing the detention of Nika Kvintradze. For the purpose of image comparison and identification of an individual shown on the photo and video materials, we provided forensic expert Kenneth Linge2 with 1) video footage broadcasted by Rustavi 2; 2) photo where one of the witnesses supposedly identified Nika Kvintradze (photo N2); and 3) post-mortem and passport photos of Nika Kvintradze. On August 26, DABS Fingerprints/Forensics Ltd provided us with the forensic image comparison findings (see the Annex). By means of a morphological comparison, it was determined that the passport image, the post-mortem photograph and image #4 (a photo still from the video footage broadcasted by Rustavi 2) are all of the same person. The forensic analysis found 7 similarities shown by the images, the most important being a significant swelling on the left temple, possibly resulting from a blow, shown by image N4 and the post-mortem photograph. Examination of the video footage revealed no evidence of any image tampering. Furthermore, the forensic analysis determined that the video material and the photograph where a witness supposedly identified Nika Kvintradze showed the same scene from different viewpoints.

2011-09-06 10:21 See more

Address of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association to Levan Samkharauli Bureau of Forensic Expertise

The Georgian Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) is protecting interests of Ioseb Tsiklauri who is currently serving his punishment in the treatment facility for defendants and convicts. Currently, due to his extremely severe health condition, Ioseb Tsiklauri has been transferred to the Tbilisi national center for tuberculosis and lung disease. Timely course of treatment is crucial for improving Ioseb Tsiklauri’s health condition. To this end, his family members arranged for a forensic test at Levan Samkharauli Bureau of Forensic Expertise. The convict underwent the test on June 28, 2011. Following the corresponding examination, the forensic expert drew up findings that were transferred to the national bureau of Samkharauli but the findings still have not been submitted to convict’s family. Timely submission of forensic findings is of vital importance for the convict as it may reveal that his extremely severe health condition may serve as the basis for his early release.

2011-08-19 06:19 See more