“Russia and the de facto authorities in Georgia’s disputed South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region must ensure a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation into the death of a Georgian detainee, Archil Tatunashvili; and his body should be returned to his family as soon as possible,” the Amnesty International, London-based international human rights organization, said in its public statement on March 5.
The body of Archil Tatunashvili, a thirty-five-year old native of Akhalgori Municipality in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, who died at the hands of the region’s Russian-backed authorities on February 22, has not been yet transferred to his family despite Tbilisi’s requests and international mediation.
In a comment for Civil.ge on March 6, the Amnesty International’s representative on South Caucasus Levan Asatiani said Tskhinvali’s reluctance to release the body “makes it very convincing that the de facto authorities in South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region have something dreadful to hide; Death in custody is always a very suspicious case, and it seems that, unless proven otherwise by an impartial investigation, Archil Tatunashvili’s life was arbitrarily deprived.”
The Amnesty International stressed in its statement that under international standards “a death of any type in custody should be regarded as prima facie a summary or arbitrary execution and there should be a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation to confirm or rebut the presumption.” “A failure to respect the duty to effectively investigate Archil Tatunashvili’s death would itself amount to a breach of the right to life,” the statement also reads.
Archil Tatunashvili’s death in Tskhinvali custody was condemned by Tbilisi and the international community, including the European Union, Lithuania, the U.S. Embassy in Georgia, the U.S. State Department, the United Kingdom, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Finland, Spain, Japan, the Czech Republic, Poland, CoE Congress President, PACE Rapporteurs for Georgia, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the human rights committee chair at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.