Thursday

29th Sep 2016

Letter

Georgians want answers to years of impunity

  • Tbilisi: The Saakashvili summons comes at a delicate time in EU-Georgia-Russia relations (Photo: Thomas Depenbusch)

The prison torture scandal that angered Georgians enough to vote out the government of Mikheil Saakashvili in 2012 was only a part of years of abuse and corruption under the leadership of a man some in Georgia and abroad believe should remain untouchable. The majority of the Georgian people at least want answers to those abuses of the past.

For years, the international community - the Europeans, the Americans, and others - had called for a more transparent government in Georgia, a fairer justice system, a freer media. The new government led by Georgian Dream has delivered on those reforms, as the latest EU progress report this week notes. But should there be a two-speed justice system that leaves former officials above the law?

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

This is why thousands of Georgians came forth after the 2012 elections and filed complaints alleging official wrongdoing, requiring a newly freed justice system to investigate. There were allegations of diversion of public funds, wrongful imprisonment, even violence. Some of those cases have required investigators to summon former officials.

The Georgian government has also demonstrated flexibility: that Saakashvili can testify via video-conferencing from outside the country. What is important is that investigators are able to give Saakashvili an opportunity to answer those questions, and show Georgians the transparency of the judicial process. So far the former president faces no charges. Investigators simply want answers.

There is one point in Salome Samadashvili's commentary published in EUobserver on 27 March 2014 on which I agree: This judicial process should in no way affect plans for the accelerated June signing of the EU association agreement with Georgia. The agreement is a deeply important step in Georgia's European integration, and demonstrates the progress our government has made in raising our country to EU standards.

Our judicial process, and its reforms, have been overseen by EU rights envoy Thomas Hammarberg as well as international NGOs. Our reforms have brought an independent judiciary and openness in the process, including cameras in the courtroom. But we should not limit these reforms, and efforts to bring rule of law, by ignoring the abuses of the past.

The writer is chairman of the foreign relations committee in the parliament of Georgia

Column / Crude World

Why Putin's union doesn't want to work with the EU

The EU should not dismiss institutional cooperation with the Russia-led economic association. But Moscow's previous behaviour with Ukraine and Moldova shows it won't let its neighbours turn too much to the West.

Opinion

Steel overcapacity crisis - from Europe to China

While the debate has escalated about China’s steel overcapacity, it is not exactly new. The first postwar steel crisis occurred in the US and Europe. Beijing seeks to avoid a deja vu of bad policies.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region Seeks to Make Its Voice Heard in the World
  2. Taipei EU OfficeCountries Voice Support for Taiwan's Participation in ICAO
  3. World VisionNew Tool Measuring Government Efforts to Protect Children Released
  4. GoogleDid You Know Europe's Largest Dinosaur Gallery Is in Brussels? Check It Out Now
  5. IPHRHuman Rights in Uzbekistan After Karimov - Joint Statement
  6. CISPECloud Infrastructure Providers Unveil Data Protection Code of Conduct
  7. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  8. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  9. Martens CentreQuo Vadis Georgia? What to Expect From the Parliamentary Elections. Debate on 29 September
  10. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List
  11. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  12. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?

Latest News

  1. EU commission presents 'realistic' lobbying rules
  2. Evidence mounts of Russia's role in MH17
  3. New EU rules on financial products in limbo
  4. Turkey denies protection to returning Syrians
  5. Budget commissioner Georgieva leaves for UN campaign
  6. Ambition meets reality in EU tax leaks probe
  7. No support for EU army in ministers' talks
  8. Greek MPs approve water and electricity privatisation