UN Panel: Overly Harsh Justice in Georgia

Posted June 24th, 2011 at 3:55 pm (UTC-5)
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A United Nations expert panel says Georgia's justice system is far too skewed toward prosecutors, leaving little chance for a defendant to have a balanced and fair trial.

El Hadji Malick Sow, head of a U.N. working group on arbitrary detention, said Friday it is “alarming” that almost 90% of court cases resort to plea bargains, saying it is because defendants believe agreeing to plead guilty is their only chance at avoiding an “excessively harsh” prison sentence.

In the statement, Sow noted that only one tenth of one percent of trials result in a not guilty verdict.

Sow said Georgia has one of the world's highest rates of incarceration, and said the former Soviet republic needs to consider alternative methods of detention.

But the U.N. panel's statement commended Georgia for recent reforms, and encouraged the government to work on implementing them.

The report comes after the panel, part of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, spent ten days visiting prisons and interviewing officials, detainees, lawyers, civil society members, and representatives from the U.N. and other international organizations.

The panel will present its final report to the U.N. Human Rights Council next year.