On July 26 of 2013, on international day of assistance of victims of torture the Center for rehabilitation of victims of torture Empathy jointly with Georgian Bar Association conducted joint press conference, dedicated to the right of victims of torture to effective and impartial investigation and rehabilitation.Taking into consideration international standards in given sphere completed or ongoing investigations on the facts of torture, conducted by the Prosecutor General’s Office was assessed as inadequate and effective. Here we imply investigation of acts of torture, committed by 16 executioners, some of whom were released from criminal liability, while in regard to some of them the court arrived to decision on their convictions for the term of 6 months or shorter term. These facts of torture are documented on the videos and occurred on September of 2012, when the perpetrators mercilessly tortured convicts. The videos, containing evidence of acts of torture were made public and became known to the whole world.
The Center Empathy requested from the General Prosecutor’s Office information on the progress of investigation of the facts of torture. The center Empathy also submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Justice of Georgia and the Prime Minister of Georgia on entering amendments to the Criminal Procedural Code of Georgia for the purpose of bringing of the code in compliance with international standards in the sphere of torture. The recommendations underlined importance of elaboration of provisions, ensuring better protection of rights of victims and medical personnel, working in the “risk zones”. On the issue of ineffectiveness of investigations the center Empathy also applied to the Parliament of Georgia with recommendation on setting up of parliamentary commission, where relevant experts shall be represented as well. The statement, referred above was published in media.
Press conference organized by the center Empathy promoted to initiation of active debates around given issues, although unfortunately up to now no effective decisions were reached and the rights of victims of torture are not duly protected, due to which the number of applications, submitted to the European Court of Human Rights has increased. We consider, that such attitude shall promote the syndrome of impunity, which in itself represents violation of international or national standards on prevention of torture and shall create conducive environment for torture and degrading and inhuman treatment.
As an example, confirming the above mentioned state of affairs serves the case of Mamuka Mikautadze. The factual circumstances of the case are the following: According to available information Mamuka Mikautadze committed suicide after he has been interrogated by police and was subjected to torture. The investigation has been initiated on the grounds of several articles, including the article dwelling on coercion leading to suicide, although the center Empathy insists, that the investigation is conducted ineffectively, as the investigation is not initiated on the grounds of torture. This is happening notwithstanding the fact, that there are reasonable grounds to suspect, that in the process of interrogation Mikautadze was subjected to severe emotional trauma and suffering that caused his suicide. Consequently, taking into consideration article 1 of the UN Convention on Prevention of Torture the investigation should have been initiated on the grounds of alleged torture, which has not happened up to now. It is noteworthy, that adequate psychiatric/psychological examination in accordance with requirements of Istanbul protocol has not been conducted (examination of the body, documentation and materials of the case).
Consequently, we conclude that investigation of facts of torture and gross violations of human rights, as well as court proceedings are conducted through adoption of the methods, characteristic to soviet period. Namely, the attitude, that ”state bodies and officials from law enforcement are always right” continues to prevail. We address the government of Georgia and the Parliament with recommendations to set up an independent monitoring council for the purpose of ensuring adherence to international standards in the sphere of prevention of torture and documentation of facts of torture. Several non-governmental organizations already applied with such request to the Parliament of Georgia. Also, it shall be expedient to invite international experts to conduct trainings for prosecutors, police and judiciary and the representatives of the above mentioned state bodies should implement their activities under supervision of such experts, as unfortunately even the education in given sphere remains burdened with soviet heritage. At the same time we consider, that the Parliament of Georgia should start considering adoption of the law on lustration, as the experience of Eastern European countries confirms, that such measures assist to liberate from soviet mentality and heritage.