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A hungry lawyer is no match for Saakashvili2011-05-19 20:11
A strange protest rally is taking place in Tbilisi. Yesterday nearly 50 lawyers announced a hunger strike until the authorities meet their demands. Taking a quick look at this list one thing is already clear: lawyers will starve for a long time. The leaders of the republic are called to comply with nearly 10 clauses - freedom of media, release of political prisoners and criminal persecution of persons associated with elite corruption.
It's the scope, not the quantity of demands that seems shocking. Lawyers plan to starve for five days that are given to the Georgian authorities for liberation of mass media, creation of an independent judicial system, an unbiased investigation into the case of the young men shot down by the police in a street a few years ago, to comply with the verdict of the Court of Strasbourg on Sandro Girgivliani's murder. Besides, hunger strikers want to find and punish people associated with elite corruption, to announce universal amnesty for the illegally incarcerated and align the constitution with the international conventions.
There is a particularly curious clause in the list - to punish everyone connected with elite corruption. Sounds like lawyers suggest that the authorities imprison themselves after establishing a new free state in five days' time. By complexity it's almost like creation of the world. Otherwise the protesters threaten to join rallies starting from May 21.
Half a hundred people with a few lawyers among them joined in the hunger strike. On the whole, the situation of lawyers in Georgia is not enviable. The authoritarian regime relegated lawyers to the role of mere figurants. Sakartvelo has Europe's lowest rate of acquittals. In this situation there is little that depends on a defender.
Besides, many lawyers are now prisoners. If a lawyer is active in his struggle against the system, a suitable article is easily found in the Criminal Code. According to the Georgian Association of Lawyers, presently 111 lawyers are imprisoned. As a rule, they were involved in some political cases. In 2010 the Professional association of Europe confirmed facts of pressure on the Georgian community of lawyers and called on the authorities to stop persecution of lawyers for political reasons. Still, it is clear that things have not changed a lot ever since.