Current Profile Status: January 2009
Table of Content
- 69,700 sq km
- Total Population
- 4,395,000 (UN 2007)
- Prison Rate
- 415 (per 100.000 of national population)
- Capital Punishment
- abolished, acceded to ICCPR-OP2
- yes, individual complaints procedure accepted
Georgia has a mixed multi-party system, combining a presidential republic and a strong executive branch with a unicameral parliament. President Mikheil Saakashvili was first elected president in 2004, following the "Rose Revolution", which, spurred on by growing public discontent with government corruption and fraudulent parliamentary elections, forced the resignation of his predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze, in November 2003. Following mass opposition protests against increasing poverty, authoritarianism and corruption, Saakashvili proclaimed a state of emergency in November-December 2007 and called early presidential and parliamentary elections in January 2008, in which he was re-elected and his party's majority in parliament consolidated.
Since emerging from the collapsing Soviet Union as an independent state, Georgia has struggled with periods of civil war and unrest, particularly in its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The conflict over the two provinces remained "frozen" for over a decade, until it culminated in August 2008 in a brief but damaging war between Georgia and Russia which ended in Georgia's military defeat. Russia has long supported the de facto governments in the two separatist regions and, on 26 August, it recognised their independence in a step widely criticised by the international community. The war had devastating effects on the country's infrastructure and displaced some 131,000 people. International military observers from the EU and OSCE were denied access to the conflict region, but reported continuing shooting along the border with South Ossetia after the official termination of the war.
Given its previous dependence on Russian energy supplies, Georgia's economic situation worsened dramatically following the rupture of trading ties with Russia. High-level corruption continues to be a problem, as are allegations that the judicial system remains under the influence of the presidency and the Prosecutor's Office. Following increasing domestic and international pressure, Saakashvili has pledged to implement reforms, including strengthening parliamentary power over the presidency, increasing media freedoms and judicial independence, and promoting minority participation in politics.
Sources: Human Rights Committee, Council of Europe, Economist Intelligence Unit, Human Development Report 2008, Transparency International PCI 2008, Oxford Analytica, International Crisis Group
Situation of Torture and Ill-Treatment
Georgia is State Party to the ICCPR, CAT and the ECHR, all of which contain provisions on the prohibition of torture. Georgia has also ratified OPCAT and the ECPT. The CPT has visited Georgia in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007.
Domestically, torture and ill-treatment are prohibited under the Georgian Constitution and the revised Criminal Code contains provisions on the criminalisation of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, the use of threats of torture and the coercion of confessions.
Practice of Torture and Ill-Treatment
During his visit to Georgia in 2005, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture received credible allegations of the use of torture and ill-treatment against detainees held in police custody to extract confessions.1 Most allegations were marked by a pattern of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, and by violations of safeguards, including the access to a lawyer and a satisfactory medical examination. The methods of torture included beatings with fists, butts of guns and truncheons, cigarette burns and electrocution. While he did not receive allegations of physical abuse in prison, he found that conditions of detention were generally deplorable and severely overcrowded. The persistence of torture and ill-treatment was attributed to the widespread impunity of the security forces, absence of effective complaint and victim protection mechanisms, and the lack of independence of the Prosecutor's Office and the judicial system as a whole. These findings were confirmed by the CAT Committee in its 2006 Concluding Observations, which also expressed concerns about the practice of diplomatic assurances.
More recently, Georgian authorities have undertaken several efforts to combat the persistence of torture and ill-treatment, including the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy, the development of an anti-torture action plan, which envisages human rights training for police officers, the strengthening of safeguards,the implementation of judicial reform and the improvement of prison conditions. However, reports of excessive use of force by police and prison officials, allegations of ill-treatment and widespread impunity have continued.2 In its 2007 report, the CPT noted an improvement in the treatment of detainees in police custody and prisons (with the exception of one prison), but criticised the excessive use of pre-trial detention and a steep increase in the overall prison population which has led to severe overcrowding and adverse prison conditions.3
1See the report on his mission to Georgia, UN Doc. E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.3 (23 September 2005).
2HRC, Concluding Observations on Georgia, UN Doc. CCPR/C/GEO/CO/3 (15 November 2007).
3CPT, Report on the mission to Georgia from 21 March to 2 April 2007, CPT/Inf(2007) 42; see also Human Rights Watch, Submission on Georgia to the European Commission, ENP Progress Report, 27 January 2008.