Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, reputed international human rights organizations, voiced concerns regarding the treatment of the jailed Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been on hunger strike since October 1.
In a tweet dated November 9, Amnesty International said Saakashvili’s treatment by Georgian authorities was “not just selective justice but apparent political revenge.” It noted that the ex-President was “violently transferred to the prison hospital, allegedly threatened; denied dignity, privacy, and adequate healthcare.”
Giorgi Gogia, Associate Director of Europe and Central Asia Division at the Human Rights Watch, tweeted on November 10 that Saakashvili’s rights to a fair trial, healthcare, privacy, and dignity were “at risk.”
Commenting on criminal cases against the former President, Gogia said that “regardless of whether the criminal cases against him had merit, international human rights law doesn’t support convictions in absentia” as it is “not consistent with fair trial norms.” He noted, “even if Saakashvili has refused to be present for original trials, he is entitled to a retrial where he can be present and mount a robust defense, including by interrogating evidence against him and questioning witnesses”.
Regarding the circumstances of Saakashvili’s transfer to the Gldani prison hospital facility, HRW officials said it could be “interpreted as forced treatment,” noting that the move, which “risks humiliation, inhuman and degrading treatment” is unacceptable.
Stressing ex-President’s right “to the highest attainable standard of healthcare equivalent to that available to the general public,” Gogia said Georgian authorities are obligated to deliver it, and the hunger strike does not change this obligation.
The HRW official also decried the Special Penitentiary Service publishing videos and photos of Saakashvili in his cell or while interacting with his doctors, “without his consent,” as “invasion of privacy and assault on his dignity.”
The Penitentiary Service transferred Saakashvili to the No.18 prison hospital in Gldani, Tbilisi, without his consent, on the evening of November 8. His whereabouts were unknown to the ex-Presidents’ lawyers and family for at least an hour. Reports about his transfer came around 18:00, while the Penitentiary Service made an official announcement at 18:57 on Facebook. Saakashvili, his doctor and lawyers, and the Ombudsperson have all opposed his transfer to the prison hospital, citing security risks and inadequate medical equipment, advocating instead for his placement at a civilian clinic.
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