08TBILISI402, AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI402 2008-03-11 14:55 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #0402/01 0711455
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 111455Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9072

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000402 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/11/2018 
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV KDEM GG
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Ambassador used his first official meeting 
with Nick Gvaramia, Minister of Justice to underscore the 
importance of rectifying problems identified previously to 
permit Parliamentary elections to take place in a transparent 
and positive environment.  Ambassador stressed the need to 
improve the tabulation process, the voter's list, and the 
complaint procedures, while addressing claims of voter 
intimidation.  Shifting from the theme of elections to other 
issues under the authority of the MOJ, Ambassador 
acknowledged closing Tbilisi Pre-Trial Detention Facility 
Number 5 was a good step in addressing the overcrowding 
issue, but said we have serious remaining concerns about the 
poor conditions and leadership of the penitentiary system. 
Gvaramia assured Ambassador that he understood the concerns 
over the operating of the National Forensics Lab and the need 
to more actively cooperate with Ministry of Internal Affairs 
(MOIA) in the effective use of this resource.  End Summary. 
 
Election Themes 
--------------- 
 
2.  (C)  Tabulation Process:  Ambassador noted that some of 
the problems which arose in the January 5 presidential 
election were due to a lack of properly trained 
representatives familiar with the tabulation process. The 
solution to making the tabulation more transparent and 
accurate is not to cut back on the amount of information 
included in the precincts' protocol forms, but to lay out the 
form in a more logical manner to enable quicker 
reconciliation.  Comprehensive training should also be 
provided to those filling out the protocols.  Ambassador 
stressed that protocols be processed and posted in the order 
received in a timely manner, rather than waiting 8-10 hours 
before publicly revealing the results. 
 
3.  (C)  Voters List:  Ambassador stressed the need to 
improve the voters list and Gvaramia agreed that prior to the 
upcoming Parliamentary elections the voter's list should be 
systematically updated to address concerns about deceased 
and absent voters who are still actively carried on the 
voter's rolls.  He acknowledged that part of the problem is a 
lack of a cohesive policy in the villages with regard to the 
issuance of death certificates and burial.  If, for example, 
in Tbilisi the issuance of a death certificate is a 
prerequisite to getting permissions for burial, this process 
doesn't exist in small villages where deaths aren't properly 
recorded and consequently voter's rolls are not updated. 
Officials at the Civil Registry Agency (CRA) are actively 
working with gamgebelis (the heads of city councils) in the 
provinces to remedy this and are cross-referencing other 
government sources of information, such as pension fund data, 
for use in updating the voter's list. 
 
4.  (C)  Gvaramia said that he himself had noticed certain 
irregularities in the CRA data, such as multiple persons 
assigned to one address (in one instance, over 70 persons). 
He said that doing away with Election Day (or same day) 
registration would remedy part of the confusion, as some of 
the aforementioned cases can be traced to those who 
registered on the day of the election.  He alluded to the 
"hands of the opposition" being involved in these instances, 
such as collusion between CRA workers and opposition 
representatives, but gave no further information to 
substantiate this claim. Ambassador said that the U.S. had 
funded the updating of CRA data because it was so important 
and critical to the future of Georgia. 
 
5.  (C)  Intimidation:  Ambassador reiterated the need to 
address reports of intimidation in the regions by gamgebelis 
to pressure voters.  He said the Embassy had recently heard 
one report of intimidation even before the Parliamentary 
elections are in full swing. Gvaramia said gamgebelis tend to 
value good turnout as a measure of their success as local 
leadership.  He agreed, however, that there is a line which 
should not be crossed to pressure people into turning out or 
voting for a particular party. 
 
6.  (C)  Complaint Procedure:    Ambassador stressed the need 
for a responsive process which would address election day 
complaints.  Gvaramia said that 95% of the complaints filed 
in the previous election were not completed in a procedurally 
correct manner, including those filed  by the Georgian Young 
Lawyers Association (GYLA).  Gvaramia said that in order to 
appeal a complaint to the courts, it should have first been 
filed with the District Electoral Commission (DEC) and GYLA 
did not do this.  He went on to say that having opposition 
representatives in the DEC during the next elections should 
tamp down criticism from groups filing complaints. 
 
Prison Conditions 
----------------- 
 
7.  (C)  Ambassador commended the MOJ on closing Tbilisi 
Pre-Trial Detention Facility Number 5 which has long drawn 
criticism for overcrowded conditions.  Noting that the newest 
version of the Human Rights Report would be released in &#x000A
;coming days, Ambassador stressed that we continued to have 
concerns about the poor conditions in the prisons and the 
leadership of the Penitentiary system.  Ambassador encouraged 
the MOJ to complete the investigation of the March 2006 
prison riots and to release this report publicly.  Gvaramia 
said that actions were underway now to resurrect and 
rejuvenate the Interagency Torture Council, which has not met 
since the fall of 2007, by reaching out to NGOS and civil 
society representatives.  Gvaramia had hopes that the Public 
Defender would be appointed as the office of primary 
responsibility for overseeing the council's activities. 
 
Judicial Reform 
--------------- 
 
8.  (C) Ambassador urged Gvaramia to do all he could to 
support passage of the new Criminal Procedure Code (drafted 
with U.S. technical assistance) before the end of this 
Parliament's term.  While Gvaramia agreed on the importance 
of the CPC, he was skeptical that there was enough time left 
to finish the work before elections.  He nodded in agreement 
on hearing the Ambassador's comments about the need to 
improve higher legal education by getting the Ministry of 
Education and the Ministry of Justice to work together on a 
curriculum which would strengthen education by standardizing 
accreditation standards. 
 
Forensics Lab 
------------- 
 
9.  (C) Ambassador restated the need for the MOJ and the MOIA 
to work together in sorting out areas of responsibility 
between the ministries in regard to the operation of the 
National Forensics Laboratory.  He underscored the importance 
of both ministries' cooperation in the efficiency of the lab, 
to which the U.S. has contributed significant funding since 
2001 and which must be reported annually to Congress. 
Gvaramia acknowledged the situation, saying he himself was 
most anxious to address this with the MOIA as soon as 
possible. 
 
 
TEFFT

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