By Guest Nicole
The annual report by the Council of Europe assessing the execution rate of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights points to 36 judgments involving Georgia which have yet to be executed. The report calls on Georgia to accelerate the execution process, as it is “imperative for the insurance of human rights.Â”
The Council of EuropeÂ’s Committee of Ministers is responsible for monitoring the implementation, or Â“execution,Â” of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights and publishes an annual report with the results for each European country.
The monitored cases are classified into different categories to allow for ease of understanding. All cases are classified as either Â“leadingÂ” or Â“repetitive.Â” Leading cases are those revealing new structural and/or systemic problems, whereas repetitive cases relate to issues that have already been raised before the Committee.
Georgia was involved in 10 new cases in 2017, a light increase from 2016 with its 7 new cases. Of these 10 cases, three were leading cases, and seven were repetitive. Countries often lack behind in the implementation process for years, trying to avoid necessary measures or pointing to an unfavorable situation to implement legislative amendments. In 2016, Georgia still had 39 pending cases to implement, decreasing slightly to 36 last year, out of which 23 are repetitive and 13 leading.
The Committee selected six pending cases to be under enhanced supervision, which is a supervision procedure for cases requiring urgent individual measures, pilot judgments, and judgments revealing important structural and/or complex problems as identified by the Court.
Presently, Georgia has five such pending cases, which have been awaiting execution for more than five years. With regards to monetary compensation, also called Â“just satisfaction,Â” Georgia awarded Â€120,151 in 2017, almost twice less than in 2016 (Â€221,000). However, the State itself is tasked with payment to the victims, which rarely takes place in a timely manner. In 2017, Georgia respected the payment deadline in eight cases, while for four cases, the payment was still pending past the set deadline.
The report highlights two main pending cases, which it urges the government to implement due to their importance regarding human rights. The first case is Tsintsabadze vs Georgia, dealing with the lack of effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment or violations of the right to life. Although the monitoring team observed improvements, they continue to monitor the case.
The second case is Identoba et.al. vs Georgia, dealing with the lack of protection against homophobic attacks during a demonstration. Touching again the issue of the first case, as adequate investigation procedures were missing also for this case, the European CourtÂ’s judgment points to a Â“Failure to adequately protect against inhuman and degrading treatment inflicted by private individuals to LGBT activists (in May 2012) and JehovahÂ’s Witnesses (in 1999-2001) during marches or meetings.Â” Following the broad scope of the judgment, this case deals with the freedom of religion and the freedom of assembly and association.
Furthermore, the report highlights essential improvements undertaken by the government with regard to closed cases. The Committee closed the Gharibashvili vs Georgia case, as the effectiveness of investigations was improved through the better involvement of the victims in the investigation, new rules for witness interrogation, and reinforced institutional independence for investigating bodies. In addition, the prevention of excessive use of force by the police in the course of arrest and ill-treatment in custody has been improved, notably through the creation of internal monitoring mechanisms in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Corrections.
Monitoring legal improvement and law amendments, the Committee praises Georgia for the law Â“On Common Courts,Â” foreseeing that all judicial acts, including the operative part of decisions adopted, will be published on the website, thus increasing transparency. In conjunction with these measures, numerous training and awareness-raising measures have been undertaken.
Besides the assessment of improvements based on specific cases, the report highlights general advances in the field of human rights and safety. The power of bailiffs to arrest individuals is better circumscribed, and guarantees for the holding of a public hearing and respect for the equality of arms have been adopted. The possibility for detained persons to obtain compensation for their illegal or unjustified detention is ensured, independently of conviction or acquittal.
Rehabilitating GeorgiaÂ’s past, legislative amendments were adopted in 2011 and 2014 in order to grant compensation to the victims of Soviet-era repression. Improvements have also been observed in the electoral law.
Clear criteria were introduced to define when the Central Electoral Commission can use its power to invalidate elections, alongside the introduction of an effective remedy against its decisions.
On a European level, the countries with the highest total number of pending cases at the end of 2017 were Russia (1,689), Turkey (1,446), Ukraine (1,156), Romania (553) and Italy (389). Of the 7,584 pending cases at the end of 2017, 1,379 (18%) were leading cases and 6,205 (82%) were repetitive cases. The countries with the highest number of leading cases pending at the end of 2017 were Russia (216), Turkey (177), Ukraine (136), Bulgaria (77) and Moldova (76). The countries with the highest number of repetitive cases pending at the end of 2017 were Russia (1,473), Turkey (1,269), Ukraine (1,020), Romania (495) and Italy (335). A strong decrease in pending cases could also be observed on a European level, as 3,849 pending cases were under enhanced supervision at the end of 2017, down from 6,718 at the end of 2014 (a drop of 43%).
Although Russia tops the statistics in pending cases, they strongly lag behind resolving or implementing them, surpassed by Italy and Hungary. The countries that closed the highest total number of cases in 2017 were Italy (2,001), Hungary (296), Russia (254), Romania (144) and Poland (133).
In 2017, the court awarded Â€14.6m in Â“just satisfactionÂ” against Russia, Â€12.5m against Italy, Â€11.6m against Turkey, Â€5.9m against the Slovak Republic and Â€3.7m against Greece. The total figure is Â€60.4m compared to Â€82.3m in 2016.
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By Guest Kurt
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By The Librarian
Investigators with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are still trying to figure out what happened to a Telfair County man found shot to death in his home last week.
Earl Seay's bright blue house is still adorned with pieces of red and yellow crime scene tape -- the only signs of what happened there last week.
David Spires manages the apartments across the street. He says he knew Seay years ago, but didn't know anyone lived in the home anymore.
"It gives you chill bumps," he said. "I hope they find out who done it."
Seays' brother found the 67-year-old shot to death last Wednesday. He was a radio dispatcher for the Telfair County Sheriff's Office in the 80's and 90's, according to his obituary.
The obituary also says Seay struggled with alcohol addiction in his later years. He attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and was sober for 16 years. He was also a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses church.
"Earl was a good guy, just always full of life. [He] laughed and always had a joke to tell you," Spires said.
Since Seay was killed, Spires says his tenants have been on edge -- wondering what happened at the blue house across the street from them.
The GBI won't release any further details about how Seay died. The bureau says they don't want to jeopardize their investigation.
WMAZ spoke to some of Seay's family members today. They declined to comment for this story.
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