Report: Georgian Offenders Need Access to Fair Trial, Due Process and Showers
Georgia may often lead the charts as the South Caucasus' top reformer, but the country just got quite a bit of bashing for the flaws in its administrative law code. Human Rights Watch on January 4 reported that Georgian defendants’ right to due process and fair trial is compromised by the current system, which, it claims, largely operates as a conveyor belt for hasty verdicts that favor the prosecution -- a frequent complaint about Georgia's justice system.
The Administrative Code, which governs misdemeanors that do not amount to criminal offenses, does not grant defendants the right to be informed promptly of their offenses or require police to provide reasons for their detention, the New York City-based watchdog said.
“Detainees are often not allowed to contact their families promptly,” while “lawyers have difficulty finding detainees in custody," it found.
After often perfunctory, 15-minute-long trials, convicts frequently end up serving their sentences in facilities not intended for extended stays and which fall short of international standards; i.e., no access to daily showers and outdoor exercise, HWR said.
The group further charged that verdicts tend to be based “almost exclusively” on police testimonies, while few defendants have the time to hire a lawyer, much less prepare an effective defense.
Human Rights Watch called on Georgia to honor its international human rights obligation, namely the European Convention of Human Rights, and correct the flaws.
The report's author, HRW senior Europe and Central Asia researcher Giorgi Gogia, argues that it is in the best interest of Georgia to address these issues now, or else risk facing “European Court judgments finding Georgia in violation of the European Convention.”(Note: Human Rights Watch receives funding from the Open Society Foundations. EurasiaNet.org functions under the auspices of the Open Society Foundations' Central Eurasia Project.)