Public Defender Responds to Illegal Imprisonment of Georgian Citizen Zaza Gakheladze by Occupation Regime

The Public Defender of Georgia is responding to the illegal deprivation of liberty of Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze by the so-called court of occupied Tskhinvali. Zaza Gakheladze, a resident of the village of Kvemo Chala, Kaspi Municipality, was shot and detained by the occupation regime on July 11, 2020.

The Public Defender of Georgia has been involved in the case from the moment of the detention and has had constant communication with the family members of the detainee and the relevant state organizations.

The illegal deprivation of Zaza Gakheladze’s liberty clearly shows that the occupation regime has aggravated the illegal practice of detaining persons for illegally crossing the so-called border. Long-term illegal imprisonment has recently become a common practice, unlike previous years, when the so-called illegal border crossing had been regarded as an administrative offence and the detainees used to be released after paying a fine. Obvious examples of the above are the cases of Vazha Gaprindashvili, Genadi Bestaev, Irakli Bebua and Khvicha Mghebrishvili.

The Public Defender of Georgia emphasizes that similar illegal actions of the occupation regime grossly violate the rights and freedoms of the population living in the occupied territories, which once again proves the need for international human rights monitoring missions to be allowed to work in the occupied territories.

It should be noted that on January 21, 2020, the European Court of Human Rights unequivocally confirmed the effective control of the Russian Federation in the uncontrolled territories of Georgia and held Russia responsible for human rights violations on the ground, including for illegal detentions near the occupation line. Therefore, the Russian Federation is responsible for the illegal detention of Zaza Gakheladze. In addition, under international human rights law, the de facto authorities are also responsible, along with Russia, for human rights abuses in the uncontrolled territories.

The international community has duly assessed the above illegal action of the occupation regime. In particular, the Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, the Ambassador of Norway to Georgia and the US Embassy in Georgia made statements regarding the illegal detention of Zaza Gakheladze. Accordingly, the Public Defender hopes that the Georgian Government, with the help of international organizations, will spare no effort to ensure the release of Zaza Gakheladze from the illegal detention in the shortest possible time.

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