Immediate return of property unaffordable
12 December, 2013
Immediate return of property unaffordable
Georgia cannot afford restoration of infringed property rights immediately, says the government. Country’s economic and financial circumstances cannot bear the burden now; the problem will be addressed when financial resources are sufficient. But sector pundits do not accept this and ask for immediate measures which will insure that justice is served.
Meanwhile the creation of the State Commission for Revision of Miscarriages of Justice is delayed, though this was supposed to have taken place within a three-year term and mandated to
reconsider court verdicts reached in 2004-2012, when the former government was in power, and accused of rampant violations of human and property rights. For that matter, “restoration of justice” was the key pre-election slogan before Georgian Dream won the Parliamentary elections in fall 2012.
Once power changed hands, the Prosecutors’ Office was flooded with lawsuits seeking restoration of property and human rights; authorities decided to set up the Commission, but that languished for a year and then was postponed indefinitely.
As Tea Tsulukiani, Minister of Justice of Georgia, stated on 28 November, “As soon as economic and financial conditions in the country are considered sufficient to pay compensations, the Commission issue will start from the very point where it stood still.”
The news caused discontent among those with grievances, and analysts and researchers demand clearer timelines and effective mechanisms to solve the problem. Approximately 6-7 billion GEL of assets were seized while the former government was in power. Some analysts believe that the state can return at least that part of the illegally seized property that is registered in state ownership.
Other economic analysts and businessmen, however, suggest step-by-step compensations: issuance of long-term state bonds for example or deduction of compensatory sums from Value Added Taxes. But the fact that government is not discussing any means of compensation is regarded as inadmissible by virtually one and all.
Thus the Center for Politics and Justice (CPJ) has proposed a mediation council mandated to handle the contested property that still remains within state ownership, Amiran Giguashvili, Head of CPJ, told Georgian Journal. Since the matter requires a large-scale approach, however, a separate state investigative body could specialize in 2004-2012.
“I approve the delay of the Commission,” he said. “It is better to evaluate all risks properly rather than make premature decisions. But government has to state clearly when it is going to address the problem and what strategy will be applied.”
Giguashvili believes neither the Commission, nor the Prosecutors’ Office, nor the court, if working independently, have sufficient human resources to respond to nine years of infringed property and human rights.
“A separate state body should be set up vested with the right not only to reconsider court verdicts drawn in 2004-2012 but also to re-investigate each case completely. This will help to find out whether or not the state has to pay compensation, or if some state officials misused power and are responsible for the payment,” Giguashvili said. “The state is a legal assignee of any government and the new authorities have to implement their obligation whatever the cost. The excuse that it is expensive is not acceptable to society. Maybe a victim can wait ten years, but he or she must know that compensation will be paid to the descendants.”

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