TI Georgia responds to the release of video footage in Ukraine - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

TI Georgia responds to the release of video footage in Ukraine

21 October, 2015


We would like to respond to the recent release of video footage depicting torture on a Ukrainian website. For years, torture and inhumane treatment of citizens by law enforcement and penitentiary authorities has been a severe and systemic problem in Georgia. The existence of this practice was confirmed by numerous high-profile cases, the so-called prison footage, and video materials discovered in repositories in Samegrelo. The practice was encouraged by the total impunity of law enforcement employees as well as by various degrees of involvement of high ranking law enforcement officials.

By 2013, another systemic problem - illegal mass surveillance - resulted in the Ministry of Internal Affairs accumulating more than 20,000 audio and video recordings through illegal secret surveillance. The sheer volume of these materials indicated the existence of a severe systemic problem.

The recent release of torture videos suggests that relevant authorities are unable to fulfill their most basic commitment of properly protecting materials containing personal information. The situation is further aggravated by the apparent use of these materials as a political weapon.

It is imperative that all persons involved in torture be held to justice. At the same time, those persons who took part in setting up the system of torture and illegal surveillance must also be held responsible. The government must introduce an effective mechanism for preventing these practices. Unfortunately, not all cases of torture and illegal surveillance have been investigated to date. Persons responsible for setting up the system of illegal surveillance have also not been identified. The country does not have any effective mechanisms for protecting personal information. Consequently, the privacy of citizens remains under threat.

The impunity of law enforcement employees largely facilitates systemic crime. Unfortunately, the country has never had and still does not have an independent and effective mechanism that would fully and objectively investigate violations committed by law enforcement representatives, promptly identify and punish perpetrators, and ensure effective public oversight. Without an independent investigation mechanism any investigation of violations committed by law enforcement representatives holds a very high risk of bias. Biased investigations damage both public and private interests, and undermine the guarantees of human rights protection. Finally, we would like to emphasize that public dissemination of secret recordings for political purposes is totally unacceptable.