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Human Rights Watchdog Urges Swift Action on ECHR Ruling for Machalikashvili Case Investigation

On November 20, in its statement, the Social Justice Center (SJC), a local watchdog, called on the Special Investigation Service of Georgia to fully implement the decision of the European Court of Human Rights of January 2023 regarding the case of Temirlan Machalikashvili, the 18-year-old who was shot in the head during his detention on terrorism-related charges in December 2017. In addition to this demand, the watchdog is advocating for the immediate resumption of the investigation at the national level.

On January 19, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on the case of Machalikashvili and Others v. Georgia (application no. 32245/19). The court held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of the protection foreseen by the Convention’s Article 2 – the right to life in its procedural aspect, and, by six votes to one concluded that there had been no violation of the same article in its substantive aspect (right to life).

According to the SJC’s statement, “the fundamental flaws in the investigation were precisely what made the European Court [referring to the ECHR] unable to consider the substantive violation of the right to life.” The watchdog further noted that on April 18, 2023, it filed an appeal with the ECHR on behalf of the Machalikashvili family regarding this part of the verdict. However, the Grand Chamber of the ECHR declared the appeal inadmissible on May 22, 2023, after which the ruling went into effect.

The watchdog notes that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is monitoring Georgia’s implementation of the ECHR rulings on the Machalikashvili case along with other cases of violations of the right to life.

“The Committee consolidated the Machalikashvili case with other cases against Georgia for violation of the right to life (Tsintsabadze group) and initiated intensified monitoring. Subsequently, on October 23, the Social Justice Center submitted a report to the Committee of Ministers on the necessary individual and general measures to implement the Court’s rulings,” the watchdog added.

The Social Justice Center urges the resumption of the investigation at the national level. In addition, the watchdog is calling for systemic institutional changes in Georgia. According to the SJC, these changes should include increasing the accountability of the State Security Service during special operations, removing barriers to access to confidential materials for individuals and their lawyers, ensuring procedural rights for individuals, and addressing the state’s systemic indifference to investigations into violations by law enforcement agencies.

The SJC insists that it addressed the Special Investigation Service to reopen the investigation, and although the Investigation Service did not formally refuse the request, it provided an “unfounded and vague” statement that it would consult with the Committee of Ministers in the following six months on the steps to be taken to implement the ECHR decision. The watchdog argues that such consultations are not provided for in the Committee’s procedure on the implementation of ECHR decisions.

The watchdog claims that the position of the Special Investigation Service “looks more like a deliberate delay in the resumption of the investigation”. According to the watchdog, if the investigation is faced with such delays, there’s a potential risk that essential investigative measures will not be properly carried out, making it difficult to achieve the correct legal result in the case. “At the same time, such an approach of the Special Investigation Service shows a general misunderstanding of the procedures for the enforcement of the decisions of the European Court and has a negative impact on the confidence in this new agency,” the watchdog concluded.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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