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April 18, 2011 / joninews

Georgia Rejects Cliam By Elbit System Highlight Problems in Prisions

Tbilisi Rejects USD 100m Claim by Elbit Systems

Maybe Gilauri should invite a couple of their executives over to discuss this claim? (and put them in jail to catch tuberculosis and die)

Georgia has denied having any financial liabilities to the Israeli defence electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd., which said that it had filed a lawsuit against the Georgian government in an amount of about USD 100 million.

“We know that a lawsuit has been filed [by Elbit Systems], but we have not been formally notified about this lawsuit from the arbitration,” Nino Kalandadze, the Georgian deputy foreign minister, said on April 18.

“According to the information available to us, the Georgian Ministry of Defense not only does not have any amount in arrears, there are number of defense companies, which, unfortunately, themselves owe to the Georgian side,” she added without elaborating further details.

Elbit Systems Ltd. said on April 8, that it had filed a lawsuit in the High Court of Justice of the United Kingdom because of the Georgian government's “failure to pay amounts due to the company in connection with deliverable items under several contracts signed in 2007.

Commentary:

This would be a normal business dispute in most countries but in Georgia many questions are raised, as this is perhaps a natural outcome of many challenge faced in various spheres:  political, economic, and social spheres, as Georgia, despite the high hopes and expectations its leadership purportedly maintain for the future, has been plagued by territorial conflict, economic hardship, internally displaced persons, and a wide range of human rights violations.

For a long time, Georgia has faced difficulties funding positive reforms and literally has not been able to afford to change conditions or practices. In response, “The European Union and other donors have provided the Georgian government with substantial financing to build new prisons. But simply giving money and building new prisons isn’t going to end abuses against prisoners.” (Human Rights Watch, 2006, p.2) Since Georgia received this aid in 2006 abuses have persisted at a consistent rate. Even as recently as March 2011, according to the newspaper “Georgia and World”, two prisoners died from torture. 31 year old Temur Petriashvili and 31 year old Malkhaz Muzashvili were declared dead, and doctors concluded their cause of death to be illness combined with severe trauma. Irma Inashvili, a political activist, spoke publically about the incident and stated, “We have video camera recordings of the corpse of Malkhaz Muzashvili. He has very serious injuries to the body: the leg is broken; the nose is damaged, the wrist, the veins of the neck. He bears obvious signs of torture.” (Gelashvili, 2011, p.1) The article also speculated on the cause of such torture and abuse. In many cases, “the reason for beating and torture may be that the prisoner does not kiss the photo of Mikheil Saakashvili or salute the jailer, etc…” (Gelashvili, 2011, p.1)

Such instances have even spurred recent small scale protests which have resulted in several arrests. “On April 4, 2011, police briefly scuffled with protesters outside the Supreme Court…” (Civil Georgia, 2011, p.1) “The rally was organised by various opposition groups, which are campaigning for inmates' rights.” (Civil Georgia, 2011, p.1) The conditions of detainees and prisoners remain deplorable today, and these protests are clear evidence for this claim. It would continue to appear that nothing has changed since Saakashvili took power, as throughout Georgia’s independence.

The fact that there are protests against prison conditions and lack of accountability within the penal system is highly significant. Prisons are still overcrowded, still dirty, and detainees are beaten and tortured while expectations of justice remain almost non-existent. Despite a new Georgian Constitution, new ratifications of anti-torture documents and a government that claims that it is driven by development, rule of law, and the whole nine years, it seems that the penal system, one of the oldest problems in Georgia, remains in bad shape, and will continue to be for many years to come.

Joni Simonishvili

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