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Serious Problems Remain, Despite Progress - U.S. Report on Human Rights
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 7 Mar.'07 / 12:41

The Georgian government's human rights record “improved in some areas,” but “serious problems remained,” says the 2006 Country Report on Human Rights Practices issued by the U.S. Department of State on March 6.

“While the government took significant steps to address these problems, there were some reports of deaths due to excessive use of force by law enforcement officers, cases of torture and mistreatment of detainees, increased abuse of prisoners, impunity, continued overuse of pretrial detention for less serious offenses, worsened conditions in prisons and pretrial detention facilities, and lack of access for average citizens to defense attorneys. Other areas of concern included reports of government pressure on the judiciary and the media and - despite a substantial reduction due to reforms led by the president – corruption,” the report reads.

The report notes that the Georgian government took steps in 2006 to increase the effectiveness of the judiciary through increased funding and training. But it also says reports persist that “the executive branch and powerful outside interests continued to pressure judicial authorities.”

“Many NGOs complained that judicial authorities continued to act as a "rubber stamp" for prosecutors' decisions and that the executive branch exerted undue influence. NGOs expressed concerns that recent judicial appointees lacked experience and training to act independently. The high number of vacancies at the trial court level resulted in long delays in scheduling of trials, which in turn required pretrial detainees to be kept in severely overcrowded detention facilities for extended periods,” the reports reads.

The document also includes reports about “the highly controversial” murder case of Sandro Girgvliani and the March 27 prison incident in Tbilisi.

The report notes that the government stepped up effort to combat human trafficking, which was “one notable example” of the authorities’ efforts to improve the human rights situation.

The report also says that there were accusations by NGOs, independent analysts, and journalists that “high-ranking government officials exercised some influence over editorial and programming decisions through their personal connections with news directors and media executives.”

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