Public Defender’s Statement on the Use of Pardon Power by the President of Georgia

The Public Defender of Georgia joins the public criticism regarding the pardoning of certain individuals by the President of Georgia and calls on the President to ensure maximum transparency and public involvement in the exercise of pardon power.

The Georgian President pardoned 35 people on August 28, including the persons convicted of murdering police officer Tarash Mukbanian in 2014 and those convicted of killing Davit Otkhmezuri in 2004. The above caused outrage in the society. The President initially explained that she had acted within the discretionary powers, but later expressed a desire to revise the pardon procedure.

The Public Defender explains that the discretionary nature of the pardon power does not imply its use without any justification. Pardoning should be aimed at achieving a specific task – be it in light of state, political, judicial, or special individual circumstances.1In each case, the use of such an exceptional power must be as perceptible and understandable as possible for the public.

The Public Defender of Georgia reminds everyone that the power of pardon is closely linked to the procedural obligation to protect the right to life. According to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the right to life is violated if state authorities show unreasonable tolerance towards the persons convicted of murder2, which leads to their actual impunity3.

Thus, in view of the commitment of the state to protect the right to life, the Public Defender of Georgia considers that the President of Georgia should satisfy a growing public interest and provide the public with further information on the reasonableness and arguments of her decisions.

In addition, the Public Defender of Georgia hopes that the President of Georgia will ensure that the Pardon Commission is staffed with persons enjoying high public legitimacy in the shortest time, conduct the pardon procedure as transparently as possible and mind the public consensus when making decisions.

1Human Rights Center, "Pardon Authority, Georgian Model and International Practice", Tbilisi, 2016, 10-12.

2See, e.g. Enukidze and Girgvliani v. Georgia, 25091/07, para. 269-275; Ali and Ayşe Duran v. Turkey, 42942/02, para. 69.

3See, e.g. Marguš v. Croatia, 4455/10, para. 127.

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