Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Developments
Political chaos, economic crisis, and armed conflicts in its territory gravely threatened Georgia’s very existence as a state during 1993, with severe repercussions for its human rights situation. Georgia lost territory in its war against the secessionist republic of Abkhazia and lost important ground against armed bands supporting former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who was ousted in 1992. These crises paralyzed the parliament, courts and law enforcement agencies responsible for preventing and punishing human rights abuses.
Facing an extraordinarily high crime rate in a society where most civilians have guns, Georgian law enforcement agencies, infamous for beatings, torture and other cruel treatment of detainees, showed no sign of improvement in 1993. They also continued to allow semi-official paramilitary groups to take on the role of maintaining public order. In 1993 Helsinki Watch received several appalling reports of cruel beatings in pre-trial detention. One concerned a man who was arrested for large-scale theft in a shoe factory and was beaten by police for several days in order to extract a confession, and then released. In another case, a supporter of former President Gamsakhurdia, who was awaiting trial on terrorism charges, was severely beaten by a convicted murderer who had mysteriously obtained the keys to the man’s cell.