Georgia announces wide-scale amnesty, 'political prisoners' unlikely to be included
A new amnesty bill, which the ruling Georgian Dream party has already submitted to parliament, provides for pardons for prisoners who committed crimes before December 11, 2020.
If approved, this law will not apply to persons convicted of murder and domestic violence.
The following crimes are subject to amnesty:
● Material damage
● Different categories of injury
● Drug offenses (excluding sales)
In general, the amnesty applies to crimes stipulated by 44 articles of the Criminal Code.
According to the chairman of the parliamentary committee on human rights Mikhail Sardzhveladze, the initiative provides for several principled approaches:
In case of committing a crime related to causing property damage, the person will be released from punishment if he/she compensates property damage with the consent of the victim.
The amnesty also extends to those serving life sentences.
According to Sardzhveladze, there are three such prisoners in Georgia, and their sentence will be changed to a term of imprisonment of 20 years.
Does the amnesty apply to political prisoners?
Sardzhveladze has no direct answer to this question.
According to Sardzhveladze, there are no articles in the draft law on amnesty that would include crimes committed against the state.
Therefore, it is unlikely that the amnesty will affect those arrested under the so-called ‘case of cartographers’ whom the opposition considers political prisoners.
Two former members of the state commission on border demarcation and delimitation were detained in October this year ‘in connection with the illegal transfer of Georgian territories to Azerbaijan’. According to the case, the trail leads to the previous authorities of Georgia, in particular, to the former President Mikheil Saakashvili.
The opposition believes that the case was fabricated for the sake of the election campaign of the ruling party.
“As far as I know, no amnesty is foreseen under the article under investigation. Therefore, according to the draft presented here, this article is not considered,” Sarjveladze said.
Sarjveladze says the amnesty law initiated in the parliament also, most likely, will not affect one of the founders of the opposition Mtavari Arkhi television company Giorgi Rurua, who is still serving a sentence for illegal possession / carrying of weapons.
The opposition also considers him a political prisoner.
What the opposition says
Member of the Republican Party Khatuna Samnidze says this initiative could be ‘an act of paying off a debt to criminals’, since during the 2020 parliamentary elections, the authorities worked closely with criminals and crime bosses.
As one of the leaders of the European Georgia party Gigi Ugulava noted, this amnesty applies to individual articles, and not to specific individuals, so it should also apply to Giorgi Rurua.