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Georgia: September 2002

30-09-2002 Operational Update

Facts & Figures

       

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    ICRC in Georgia - September 2002
 
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Protection of Detainees, Civilian Population and Family  
 

Since 1992, ICRC delegates have been, with the agreement of the authorities, regularly visiting detainees in their places of detention. The ICRC currently visits isolators, colonies, police stations, as well as psychiatric hospitals for people under involuntary medical treatment. President Shevardnadze’s decree of October 1996 grants ICRC delegates access to all places of detention in Georgia proper, in accordance with its standard modalities for visits. In early April 2002, the ICRC submitted a report to the concerned Georgian authorities on its visits to Police Stations and Pre-Trial Detention Cells. In Abkhazia, such access was granted orally up until December 1999, when it was put in writing. Following renewed hostilities in Abkhazia in early October 2001, ICRC delegates could visit detainees arres ted in relations with the conflict and held in Abkhazia. In January 2002 Abkhaz authorities renewed instructions, confirming the ICRC’s access at any time to all detainees being sentenced, waiting for trial or under investigation. In South Ossetia a decree valid for one year, signed by the Ossetian authorities in June 2000 and renewed for another year as from August 2001, gives similar visiting facilities to the ICRC. In late June a meeting with the President of the Autonomous Republic of Adjaria confirmed the ICRC access to detainees held in Adjaria. The purpose of ICRC visits is purely humanitarian, seeking to ensure that: the conditions of detention - both material and psychological - are adequate; the treatment of the detainees is acceptable; the detainees have access to adequate medical services; the detainees have the opportunity to communicate with their families. When required, the ICRC makes written and oral interventions to the detaining authorities in order to obtain the necessary improvements.

The ICRC also plays an active role in the protection of the civilian population with a special emphasis on vulnerable groups. When informed of cases of discrimination against individuals or groups, the ICRC presents the information to the authorities in an effort to improve the situation.

Collecting and distributing Red Cross Messages (RCM), organising family reunions are the main tasks of the ICRC Tracing Agency in Georgia. Red Cross. Messages (RCM) are basically letters containing news of a strictly private nature and used whenever the usual channels of communication are interrupted. RCMs are often the only way to keep contacts between family members separated by conflicts or between detainees and their relatives. Since January 2002, 13,511 RCM were exchanged. In 2001, over 30,000 RCM were transmitted. The ICRC also reunites families separated as a result of the conflict situation. Since 1993, 425 family re unions were organised to Georgia and 74 to foreign countries.

In January 2000, after the request of the two Missing Persons Commissions, ICRC decided to increase its support to them in their respective efforts to make progress on the issue of missing persons. An independent forensics specialist from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) was invited by the ICRC to provide technical assistance to the two Commissions on the issue of exhumation and identification of mortal remains related to conflict situations. This specialist’s initial assessment mission took place in Tbilisi and Sukhumi in October 2000 and in April and October 2001. The fourth visit was carried out in early July 2002, in order to check the data collected, to identify possible sites for exhumation and contact families of missing persons.