Background Briefing

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To the government of Georgia:

Implement immediate reforms to discourage the abuse of persons in custody, including the following:

  • Require that correct and complete records be kept that specify every person present during any given interrogation of a detainee and every person who had access to the detainee at any time.
  • Require that all interrogators, as well as medical and other staff coming into contact with detainees, wear badges that identify them by name and position.
  • Ensure that all medical personnel in detention facilities are attentive to detainee injuries and other possible signs of mistreatment. All injuries or indications of mistreatment should be documented in the greatest possible detail and promptly reported to the proper authorities. The state must ensure that there are enough properly trained medical staff and resources to do this.
  • Notify family members immediately of an individual’s detention, and allow immediate access to detainees by close family members and legal representatives.
  • Fully investigate any and all allegations of abuse in a systematic and impartial manner, and make the results of such investigations public.
  • Suspend any officials from active duty where they are being investigated for having committed, ordered, sanctioned or tolerated torture or mistreatment, and where credible evidence of such offenses exist, refer the case for public prosecution.

Undertake legal reforms, including:

  • Guarantee the right of immediate access to a lawyer of choice for anyone who is detained or held for questioning by a law enforcement officer in relation to a criminal investigation, whether or not they are charged or suspected of a crime.
  • Allow defendants or their lawyers to call a doctor or any other witness to testify at any stage of criminal proceedings, including hearings on the lawfulness of detention, as to torture or abuse of the defendant.
  • Ensure free legal counsel is available to any detainee who cannot afford a lawyer, and that such lawyers are also free from government influence.


Begin immediately much-needed systemic reforms, including:

  • Ensure that persons who make plea bargains in Georgia do not thereby compromise their ability to bring claims of torture and other mistreatment and pursue redress.
  • Reform the procuracy to ensure that policing and judicial tasks are performed by separate bodies that are fully independent of each other.
  • Strengthen the independence of the judiciary and ensure that judges respond appropriately to torture allegations by ordering investigations, taking protective measures, and disallowing evidence procured by torture or mistreatment.
  • Ensure that judges release defendants from custody subject to guarantees to appear for trial in accordance with the laws of Georgia and international standards; this is particularly necessary in order to ensure that defendants do not enter into plea bargains because of prolonged pre-trial detention absent legitimate security concerns.
  • Authorize an independent government body, adequately funded through the state budget, to review the work of judges as it relates to torture and impose appropriate sanctions where judges fail to order investigations, take protective measures or disallow evidence obtained through torture or other abuse.
  • Request publication of the report on the visit to Georgia in 2003 and 2004 by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and implement its recommendations.
  • Create independent body to receive and investigate allegations or torture and ill-treatment.

To the European Union:

  • Incorporate, as a priority, concrete benchmarks for the prevention of torture into the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan that is to be jointly agreed with Georgia. The benchmarks should include that the legislature reform the procuracy to ensure that policing and judicial tasks are performed by separate bodies that are fully independent of each other.

To the Council of Europe :

  • Encourage the government of Georgia to publish the report on the latest visit to Georgia by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and to implement its recommendations.

To the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe:

  • Increase monitoring of human rights cases, in particular those involving torture and criminal procedure abuses, and regularly make public and raise with the government the results of the monitoring;
  • Consider setting up a trial monitoring program that will result in a report with recommendations on strengthening the independence of the judiciary.

To the United States and other Countries Engaged in Bilateral Security Cooperation:

  • Make any further security assistance conditional on the Georgian government's reform of the procuracy and implementation of other concrete steps to prevent torture, including the recommendations in this briefing paper;
  • Ensure that any further assistance to Georgian law enforcement agencies to build capacity to collect and analyze forensic evidence is specifically conditioned on the Georgian government's provision of unimpeded access to prompt and impartial forensic medical examinations for all detainees from the moment they are in custody, and for all other individuals, whether in detention or not, who wish to substantiate a report of abuse by a law enforcement or other official.

<<previous  |  indexApril 2005