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Statement of GYLA Regarding the Chamber of Control of Georgia Massively Obtaining Statements from Citizens in the Regions

Throughout the last two days the Chamber of Control of Georgia has been massively summoning people in the regions to obtain their statements in buildings of local municipalities. According to media reports, people have been summoned in Kutaisi, Zugdidi, Poti, Sagarejo, Gurjaani, Lanchkhuti, Chikhatauri. Dozens of individuals in the regions received similar notices from the Chamber of Control of Georgia informing addressees that they had been summoned to give their statement regarding the administrative proceedings ongoing at the Chamber’s department of financial monitoring of political parties. As members and activists of oppositional parties clarify, statements are currently obtained in different municipalities of western Georgia. Obtaining of statements from citizens at the administrative building of Lanchkhuti municipality lasted several hours on March 12. During the noted period, movement of both citizens and journalists within the administrative building was limited. According to media reports, statements were obtained under a psychological pressure in Lanchkhuti on March 12. According to the reports, frequently citizens that had been summoned were deprived of their right to defense.

2012-03-13 07:38 See more

Response of Non-Governmental and Media Organizations to Davit Bakradze

Today, on March 7, 2012, non-governmental and media organizations participating in the campaign It Affects You held a press-conference at the office of the Open Society – Georgia Foundation, where they responded to the statement of Chairman of Parliament Davit Bakradze. Representatives of the ruling party have recently declared about their intension to once more review the election legislation and define existing regulations in a more accurate manner. Specifically, it will clearly stipulate that the legislation does not restrict “legitimate activities” of non-governmental and donor organizations specializing in political party development. Campaign participants welcome Parliament’s decision to revise ambiguous and problematic legislation but they also communicate their position about the issue once again. The legislative proposal submitted by NGOs to Parliament not only serves the purpose of avoiding restriction of work of non-governmental and international organizations but it also aims at improving election environment, creating level playing field for political parties and protecting Constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens and organizations.

2012-03-07 13:32 See more

GYLA Calls on the Investigating Authorities to Publish Evidence in Deprivation of Solomon Kimeridze’s Life

GYLA extends condolences to the deceased Solomon Kimeridze’s family and offers appropriate legal assistance if desired. With respect to Solomon Kimeridze’s case, GYLA calls for effectual and accountable investigation by the authorities. Specifically, According to the Interior Ministry’s official statement, Solomon Kimeridze fell from the stair railing in the building of the police department Khashuri district and died while interrogated as a defendant on February 27, 2012. Later open sources reported information that triggered reasonable suspicions about MIA’s official version, including the information released by the office of the Public Defender of Georgia, which revealed that during the interrogation on February 27, 2012, S. Kimeridze had been neither formally charged nor detained. On March 2, 2012, internet-publication released photos that show serious and grave bodily injuries inflicted to S. Kimeridze, including injuries around his eye socket and on his right wrist. GYLA tried to receive additional information from the deceased’s family about the deprivation of S. Kimeridze’s life but they refused to communicate in any way about the case. In view of the reports about the case, GYLA believes that substantiated answers must be provided to the following questions: could S. Kimeridze have suffered the injuries as a result of falling from the stairs? What was the cause of death? Further, did the deceased’s body display any signs of physical violence, when were they inflicted and what was their nature? In view of the high public interest in the case, GYLA calls on the investigating authorities to publicize corresponding evidence, including 1. Forensic report of S. Kimeridze’s dead body; 2. Video footage from cameras in the police department Khashuri district; 3. Photo material from the scene.

2012-03-03 14:10 See more

Non-Governmental and Media Organizations Introduced Legislative Proposals to International Organizations and Political Parties

  Today, at 12:00 pm at the Hotel Sheraton Metekhi Palace, non-governmental and media organizations held a round table within the frames of the campaign It Affects You, where legislative proposals for amending election legislation were introduced to international organizations and political parties. During the first half of the conference, initiators of the legislative proposal discussed unfair prohibitions envisaged by the existing legislation and presented detailed information about their proposals which they believe can ensure freedom of speech and expression, right to property and improvement of election environment in the country. During the second half of the meeting organizations participating in the campaign disseminated two petitions addressed to the Georgian authorities and OSCE/ODIHR. Non-governmental and media organizations appeal to the Government of Georgia for inviting long-term observation mission of OSCE/ODIHR for the purpose of pre-election monitoring in Georgia as soon as possible, in order to ensure qualified and impartial monitoring of the election environment not only within the period of two months before the elections but throughout the whole election year. Campaign organizers also appeal to the secretary general of OSCE/ODIHR for assigning a long-term observation mission to Georgia.  

2012-03-02 13:03 See more

Public Discussion on Religious Associations Organized by GYLA’s Foundation for Promotion of Legal Education

Public discussion organized by GYLA’s Foundation for Promotion of Legal Education was held on February 28, 2012. The event featured discussion of religious associations in Georgia as well as problems that they are facing. Facts of prosecuting and oppressing religious minorities in Georgia, their underlying causes and the role of the state and the Georgian Orthodox Church in tackling the problem were discussed. Among the invited experts at the public discussion were Head of the inter-religious council within the office of the Public Defender of Georgia Beka Mindiashvili, Rector of Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani Teaching University, doctor of theology Vazha Vardidze and representative of GYLA’s strategic litigation center Giorgi Gotsiridze. Representatives of civil sector and law students from higher education institutions in Tbilisi actively participated in the discussions.

2012-03-01 12:44 See more

GYLA Responds to the President's Remarks concerning a Student of School N53, Mikheil Aleksidze

On February 28, 2012, during his annual speech in Parliament, President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili referred to a student, Mikheil Aleksidze, who has been expelled from the public school N53 as a hooligan. Mikheil Aleksidze was expelled from the public school N53 on October 13, 2011, citing gross violation of the school regulations as grounds for his expulsion. However, the decision failed to note the nature of alleged violation or corroborating evidence. Furthermore, on October 13, 2011, the investigation was launched into the alleged hooliganism perpetrated against the principal of the public school N53 (i.e. the investigation was not instituted against Aleksidze). The investigation is ongoing. Public Defender of Georgia took interest in the case of Aleksidze. He revealed a number of violations in the case and addressed the Minister of Education and Science with a recommendation to restitute the right of education violated against Aleksidze. However, no further actions were taken on the basis of the recommendation of the Public Defender.

2012-02-29 12:51 See more

The Constitutional Court Upheld the Claim of Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association

On February 28, 2012 the Constitutional Court upheld the claim filed by Georgian Young Lawyers Association and citizen Tamar Khidasheli against Parliament of Georgia. The claim was filed by GYLA in October 2008, requesting para. 2 of Article 8 of the Law of Georgia on Operational Investigative Activities to be recognized as unconstitutional. The norm allowed extension of an operational investigative measure to up to 6 months based on a motivated resolution of chief of an operational investigative agency and with prosecutor’s consent, if operative information about a criminal action of an individual required collection of additional information. It allowed investigation authorities to secretly intercept conversations of individuals concerned for the period of 6 months, violating oara. 1 of Article 20 of the Constitution of Georgia – right to a privacy. The respondent – Parliament of Georgia – did not agree with the noted interpretation of the impugned norm, maintaining that the law did not allow for secret interception and surveillance without court’s control. Eventually, the Constitutional Court concluded that the impugned norm allowed extension of term, including of operational investigative measures that entail secret surveillance and interception, which resulted in violation of the right to privacy guaranteed by para. 1 of Article 20 of the Constitution of Georgia. In its judgment the Constitutional Court highlighted the particular importance of the right to privacy. Therefore, it upheld the claim of GYLA and deemed the impugned norm as unconstitutional.

2012-02-29 12:09 See more

The Petition Initiated by Non-Governmental and Media Organizations has already Collected up to 180 Signatures

Signing of the petition concerning the legislative amendments adopted in December 2011 was held yesterday, at the hotel Courtyard Marriot, within the framework of the campaign It Affects You. The event was spearheaded by the editor-in-chief of Liberal magazine, Shorena Shaverdashvili who introduced the text of the petition to the audience and called for signatures. The meeting also featured the discussion of the planned activities of the campaign, including one of their highlights – submission of the legislative proposal to parliament today, at 2:00 pm.

2012-02-17 06:30 See more

Petition of Georgian NGOs and Media Organizations

  Realizing the importance of free and fair elections, we, the representatives of NGOs and media organizations, categorically disapprove of the amendments adopted in December 2011, which • limit civil activity, property right, freedom of expression and political work, hinders democratic development of Georgia; • impose grave and unjustified liability on voters; • delegate the key agency controlling party funding – the Chamber of Control of Georgia – with an unlimited unconstitutional authority; • produce serious threats to each and every citizen as well as public society, including media; • deteriorate election environment in Georgia Therefore, we demand amendments to the election legislation.    

2012-02-16 10:13 See more

Rally of NGOs outside the Chamber of Control

  Stop Persecuting NGO Sector! Stop Killing Civil Activism! We Are Not Political Parties! Distinguish Parties from NGOs! – these are the slogans from the rally held yesterday, by NGOs on February 8 outside the building of the Chamber of Control to protest against the unlawful decision of the Chamber of Control declaring the New Generation New Initiative (nGnI) as an entity related to a party. NGOs state that the unsubstantiated decision constitutes an action undertaken against the civil activism, jeopardizing the work of NGOs in the country. NGOs state that restrictions that apply to political parties are utilized by the Chamber of Control not only against political activities but also against the realization of civil activism.  

2012-02-10 08:13 See more