NGOs react to dissemination of video Images of torture - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

NGOs react to dissemination of video Images of torture

02 November, 2015

 

 

We would like to react to dissemination of video images of torture on the Ukrainian web page, as well as to public demonstration of these videos in Tbilisi and Zugdidi.

Images of human torture were disseminated on the Ukrainian web page on 17 October 2015. These images are from the video material found in the dens in Samegrelo in 2013, following the discovery of which current authorities have shown them to representatives of diplomatic corps, media and NGOs.

To begin with, torture and inhuman treatment carried out by the staff of law-enforcement and penitentiary agencies over years was a grave systemic problem. Apart from numerous reported cases, this was witnessed by the so-called “prison images”, video materials discovered in the Samegrelo storerooms, and other cases. Inhuman treatment was fostered by impunity of individuals working in law-enforcement agencies and their release from liability. Further, monitoring results of the Public Defender, local NGOs and international organizations were totally ignored. Collaboration through various forms in the crime by high officials of law-enforcement structures also contributed to a systemic nature of these crimes.

Nevertheless, current authorities have failed to fully investigate this systemic crime, adequately punish all offenders, and fully rehabilitate torture victims. Moreover, representatives of the authorities often neglect the fact that dissemination of torture images brings additional pain to victims of torture, and that showing the details of these cases to public in this manner breaches the victims’ rights. For this very reason, NGOs have protested against public demonstration of these videos.

Upload of videos on the Ukrainian web page on October 17 proved that relevant agencies fail to deliver minimum obligations imposed on them and to duly protect the materials including person’s private life images. Use of such records as a political weapon further aggravates the situation.

Public demonstration of images of torture through projectors in the centers of Zugdidi and Tbilisi are especially alarming. In fact, any passer-by, including minors, could watch these images. As the media reports showed, representatives of local authorities also participated in the screening of images in Zugdidi. According to the statement made by the Zugdidi mayor, the City Hall has not organized the screening of torture images, yet, the participation of representatives of local authorities in such events and their assessments strengthen suspicions about the abuse of disseminated videos as a political weapon.

Dissemination of images has triggered protest rallies by regional offices (Batumi, Kutaisi, Gori, Gurjaani, Akhaltsikhe, etc.) of the “United National Movement”, organized by groups of citizens and NGOs associated with the government. Local self-government employees have also participated in some of the rallies.

We would like to stress once again that every political force must strive to introduce a high political culture in Georgia. Developing the country and democratic society by introducing additional aggression among the society and promoting hostility is impossible. Each political force must remember its responsibility before the country and general public. This must be their very driving force and not only the narrow party interests achieving short-term effects and aiming to consolidate the positions by the concrete political force ahead of elections.

It is especially alarming that the release of images in public domain to unrestricted audience, including the minors, viewing the images containing such violence becomes possible. The state is obligated to protect the minors from such malicious influence. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child puts special focus on protection of children as a special group, in view of their physical and mental immaturity. At the same time, the Convention urges the member states to develop mechanisms protecting children from the type of information and materials that could be detrimental to children’s well-being, as well as to their healthy physical and mental development.

We urge the Georgian authorities:

  • To ensure that every individual participating in human torture is held duly liable before the justice. Further, individuals participating in the creation of this system (torture of inmates and illegal secret surveillance) must be also held liable;
  • To immediately provide full information to public on the results of investigations into reports of torture, measures of established liability, and rehabilitation measures taken for the victims of torture;
  • To develop effective prevention system against such actions and to secure effective mechanisms for protection of each citizen’s personal information. Evidently, there is no such system in Georgia and for this very reason the inviolability of individuals’ private life is still jeopardized;
  • To consider the interests of torture victims while debating such facts in a public domain;
  • To effectively investigate the facts of dissemination and public demonstration of images of torture;
  • To set up an independent and effective mechanism, which will fully and objectively investigate crimes committed by law-enforcers, timely identify and hold liable the offenders, and ensure effective public control. Investigation of violent crimes committed by representatives of law-enforcement agencies without an independent investigation mechanism contains an extremely high risk of bias.

In addition, we urge the political parties and various interested groups to respect the rights of torture victims and not to politicize this topic.

 

Transparency International Georgia

Identoba

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy

Civil Development Agency (CiDA)

Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)

Article 42 of the Constitution

Human Rights Center

Georgian Young Lawyers' Association

Economic Policy and Research Center

IDFI

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