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A report on the human rights watchhelsinki

Abuses persisted, especially torture and other forms of mistreatment in detention, arbitrary detention, appalling prison conditions, use of the death sentence, corruption of law enforcement officials and the judiciary, and harassment of some political dissidents. The cease-fires relating to the internal wars between the central government and the breakaway regions of South Ossetia 1992 and Abkhazia 1992-94 continued to hold, preventing a return to large-scale violations of the laws of war.

Spontaneous returnees to Abkhazia suffered reprisals and death, and most of the estimated 250,000 people, overwhelmingly Georgian, who fled that region were afraid to return. The Georgian side made some progress in determining accountability for war crimes committed by Abkhazian fighters, but most war criminals from both sides went unprosecuted, fueling an atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity that adversely influenced general human rights protection.

The year got off to a mixed start. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE termed the November 5, 1995, parliamentary and presidential elections and the November 19, 1995, parliamentary run-offs Arelatively open; the assessments of the British Helsinki Group and others were generally less positive. There were overt attempts by the government to intimidate some opposition figures, and the OSCE reported that police interfered with some pre-election rallies.

On the eve of a report on the human rights watchhelsinki November 5 elections, authorities in the capital, Tbilisi, illegally closed the headquarters of the United Communist Party of Georgia and charged its presidential candidate, Pantileimon Giorgadze, with attempting to commit terrorist acts.

Neither Russian-sponsored peace talks on Abkhazia, recommenced in July in Moscow, nor threat of sanctions against Abkhazia by the U.

Security Council yielded positive results.

Russian formally Commonwealth of Independent States or CIS peacekeepers began to implement their expanded mandate in Abkhazia in 1996, including responsibility for policing. On January 5, for example, six members of the ethnically Georgian Sanaia family in Shesheleti, Gali district, were reportedly tortured and murdered, and their two neighbors shot to death.

The proximity of the village to several detachments of CIS peacekeeping forces and U. Return was also deterred by the disappointingly slow progress in de-mining the Gali region; only 20 percent of the mines were removed by June, according to the U. This step toward accountability for war crimes was encouraging, but only if these individuals are prosecuted and receive a fair trial.

The investigation also reportedly neglected to review cases of abuse by Georgian combatants and is therefore only a half-measure at best.

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Hopes were higher in 1996 for resolution of the conflict with the separatist region of South Ossetia. In May, the OSCE helped forge a peace memorandum in which the parties pledged to refrain from use of force or other forms of coercion and to Atake all necessary measures to halt any illegal actions and any infringement upon the right of individuals on ethnic grounds.

The government acknowledged police abuse to an unprecedented degree in 1996. According to the U. However, it was unclear how many had been prosecuted and punished, if any. Moreover, no reduction in the routine police abuse or deprivation of basic due process rights was noted or, indeed, claimed in 1996.

Press freedom was widely enjoyed, although self-censorship remained a problem, particularly in the government media. The September adoption of a law on state secrets that restricts some freedom of the media, and the de facto closure of independent TV channel Rustavi-2 on July 17, apparently for political reasons, raised some concern over the state of the independent media.

Pressure against some high-profile political opponents also continued in 1996. The Right to Monitor The government generally did not interfere with monitoring; indeed, theoretically it strengthened its own capacity for addressing complaints directly by adopting a law in May establishing the office of human rights defender analogous to an ombudsman. As of this writing the office was not yet functioning. At the same time, the fact that a human rights activist, Giorgi Kervalishvili, requested political asylum in Germany in December 1995 claiming Aconstant moral and psychological pressure from the authorities suggested that not all was well with indigenous monitoring.

Indeed, it closed its field offices in the conflict zone an area experiencing spontaneous return and violence due to budget cutbacks.

Human Rights Watch

In 1996, the U. Observer Mission in Georgia UNOMiG and its 136 military observers in Abkhazia, and thereby played a significant role in deterring human rights abuses there. The proposed program, to be jointly administered with the OSCE, would aim Ato promote respect for human rights, protect the human rights of the population of Abkhazia. If approved by the European Parliament, the E. According to an Interfax report of July 15, Secretary General Daniel Tarchys set an appropriately cautionary tone during his July visit to Georgia by stressing that full membership would not be granted until Georgia banned the death penalty and otherwise brought its legislation into conformity with European standards, and refrained from coercive methods to settle the Abkhazia conflict.

The United States The U. The State Department demonstrated a sensitive and comprehensive understanding of human rights problems in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1995.

By contrast, the U.